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Erdogan blasts Greek Cypriots for not sharing natural gas (updated)

The Turkish drillship Yavuz

Cyprus fired back against Turkey on Saturday, saying if anyone is threatening peace in the area it is Ankara, after President Tayyip Erdogan accused the Greek Cypriots of refusing to share the wealth of natural gas with the Turkish Cypriots.

“If someone is threatening the peace it is Turkey, who is infringing on the EEZ and Cyprus’ territorial waters with its government research vessels and drillships, accompanied by battleships,” government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said.

He added that Cyprus is operating within international law and that exploitation of natural gas will also be done on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots.

“From then [Cyprus talks in Burgenstock] until now the approach is unjust. The approach does not recognise the rights and law and threatens peace in the world,” Erdogan told Reuters.

Commenting on Cyprus negotiations, Erdogan said he had been at talks back in 2004 with then UN secretary general Kofi Anan in Burgenstock, where they made an agreement.

Commenting on Erdogan’s statements regarding Turkey’s research, Prodromou said the Turkish president’s statements were baseless.

Regarding the sharing of wealth, the government spokesman added that President Nicos Anastasiades has already made a proposal to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on sharing the gains of the finding in EEZ.

After the failure of the referendum to back the solution reached in 2004, Erdogan said the EU inducted Cyprus and left the north out.

However, Prodromou said that thousands of Turkish Cypriots were also EU citizens because they have documents of the Republic of Cyprus as is their right.

Regarding energy, the Turkish president said there are areas around Cyprus where Turkey is researching and there are areas to the south where ‘south Cyprus’ is researching. He added that international law states, whatever is produced from this research or taken out of the sea must be shared.

“What are they doing? They want to deprive northern Cyprus of them [their rights]. In international law there is no such thing. Any rights that exist will be taken at a percentage of the population. Whatever are the rights of southern Cyprus, those it will take. But countries that have no place are trying to have a say in these seas. The problem is here,” the Turkish president added.

Asked if there is a chance for cooperation, Erdogan said anything can happen. He said there are currently two drillships in Cyprus’ waters and a third could be on its way.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who spoke to the newspaper Ta Nea, said that Turkey needs to respect the sovereignty of Cyprus to create a better climate, according to Athens’.

“An essential prerequisite for improving the climate is to stop Turkey from turning against the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus by actions that exacerbate the country’s image as a transgressor of international law,” he said.

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