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Gas has essentially become part of the reunification negotiations, Akinci says

Mustafa Akinci: 'How long has it been a crime to defend peace?'

The natural gas issue has essentially become a part of the reunification negotiations and can ruin a solution if not resolved despite the Greek Cypriot side’s insistence that it is unrelated, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Akinci said in his upcoming meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades they should come up with a way to resolve the matter to avoid further tensions.

“It has become a chapter of our lives, it is among the important topics in the news and it has become an issue which, if properly regulated, could help in reaching a solution,” Akinci told CNA. “But if it is handled wrongly, like today, then it could wreck the solution.”

The Turkish Cypriot leader said discussing the issue is only logical and added that he had urged Anastasiades repeatedly to handle it jointly, as far back as May 2015 before the resumption of settlement talks.

Under the current circumstances, the two sides are obliged to discuss the matter and find a way out for the benefit of both communities, Akinci said.

Last month, the Turkish Cypriot leader proposed the establishment of a joint committee to administer hydrocarbon issues, which was subsequently dismissed by the council of party leaders in a meeting Anastasiades.

Akinci said that natural gas issues are considered a matter to be handled by the future federal government and the Turkish Cypriot side has no objection with that.

He added, however, that there was no solution at the moment and it would be only logical to have a joint committee to look at this issue together, roll out a programme or at least discuss shares.

He denied that his side was asking for an equal share of potential revenues.

“We said that we should discuss a reasonable share,” he said.

Akinci said his proposal was prematurely rejected by the Greek Cypriot side and added that this was wrong. Discussing the proposal with foreign diplomats, they told him they find it reasonable, he said.

During their August 9 meeting with Anastasiades, Akinci said he would try to explain the need to find a way out.

“It may not be part of the negotiating chapters, but it is a chapter of our lives, of our region and the cause of tension”, he said.

If one side says ‘I am not forming a committee, wait until after the solution,’ which no one knows when it will happen, but in the meantime starts to send gas from the Aphrodite gas field to Egypt and starts to collect revenue after some years, this will not be accepted by Turkish Cypriot side or Turkey, he added.


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