We cannot link efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem with the issue of hydrocarbons in the Cyprus EEZ, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said in an interview with Greek media on Saturday.
The Republic of Cyprus is developing and implementing its energy strategy, like all democratic and modern states, in accordance with International law and the relevant United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, Lakkotrypis said.
“Turkey’s claim regarding the protection of Turkish Cypriot interests is automatically rejected, in my view, by the neighbouring country’s own illegal ventures in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
“How is it possible to safeguard the interests of our Turkish Cypriot fellow citizens when Turkey, through its own arbitrary interpretation of international law, leaves Cyprus with only 31 per cent of its existing EEZ?” Lakkotrypis asked, noting that the Republic has made multiple calls to Turkey to engage in negotiations for the delimitation of their EEZs.
The Cypriot government has adopted legislation for a national hydrocarbons fund to ensure that all legal citizens, particularly future generations, benefit from hydrocarbon revenues, the minister said.
Lakkotrypis’ comments come after the meeting of the leaders of the island’s divided communities on Friday failed to find common ground on the issue of gas exploitation.
Added to the Cyprus problem woes is the issue of the island’s natural gas reserves with Turkey disputing the Republic’s right to explore for gas and Turkish Cypriots demanding a say and a share in the endeavour.
Ankara says that areas Cyprus claims encroach on its own continental shelf and that in other cases Turkish Cypriots are entitled to a share of the resources.
It has dispatched two drill vessels to conduct operations east and west of Cyprus. The move prompted the EU to suspend talks with Turkey on a comprehensive air transport agreement and to freeze any high-level dialogue with Ankara.
Lakkotrypis added that the latest government move to license the French-Italian consortium Total and ENI for exploratory drillings in block 7 of Cyprus’ EEZ, as well as Total’s access to all blocks managed by ENI, demonstrate that the Republic is moving forward with its energy strategy despite Turkish threats and violations.
Asked regarding recent announcements proclaiming that nine drillings will be conducted in the Cyprus EEZ by 2020, as well as regarding discussions on the creation of a gas liquefaction plant, Lakkotrypis said that the aim of the programme is to enrich the options of the Republic, which include the construction of a liquefaction plant at the Vasilikos energy centre.
“In this way, Cyprus, as a producer and distributor of gas, will be an integral part of what our we and our regional partners in our region envision: the Eastern Mediterranean gas corridor. This corridor will include alternative sources and routes and will enhance not only our own energy security but also that of the EU in general, where the vast majority of the region’s gas exports will end up,” Lakkotrypis said.