If Greek Cypriots start drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Turkey will too, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay announced.
Oktay had a meeting on Friday in Ankara with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar who was in Turkey for contacts.
According to media in the north, Oktay, commenting on the announcement earlier in the week that the Exxon Mobil/Qatar Petroleum consortium is set to begin work in late November to early December in Cyprus’ offshore block 10, said Turkey would reciprocate.
“We understand that they are trying to raise tensions,” Oktay said. He added that it would be unthinkable for both the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey to remain idle. “We have already stated this very clearly. This means that we will start drilling works. This would be the answer. We cannot think of any other answer,” Oktay said.
Ankara, which does not recognise Cyprus’ continental shelf/exclusive economic zone has in the past carried out drilling activities off the island, arguing it is operating in waters on its own continental shelf or areas where Turkish Cypriots have rights.
Okaty also sent out the message to the Greek Cypriot side that they plan on seeing through the announcement by the north of the opening of the fenced area of Varosha in Famagusta.
“We are opening Maras (Varosha) in the service of humanity,” he said. Oktay said this was the decision by the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey supported this and will continue to do so.
He also told Tatar Turkey supports his proposal on a two-state solution to the Cyprus problem arguing there was no point in wasting time again with studies and solutions that lead nowhere.
“You presented your proposal to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and expressed it openly to the whole world. I would like to express once again that we fully support your proposal,” Oktay said.
Tatar, referring to the opening of Varosha reiterated that it was a move that does not contradict the UN resolutions while it was with respects to human rights.
He said Varosha’s beaches belong to Cyprus and that Turkish Cypriots also have rights to access.
Tatar announced in July, during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the north, that 3.5 per cent of the fenced Varosha area, around five square kilometres, would be demilitarised and open for settlement.
The move was welcomed by Turkey whose military controls the fenced area of Varosha, which according to UN resolutions ought to be under UN control.
Tatar has called on Greek Cypriot refugees to claim return to their properties through the immovable property commission (IPC) set up by Turkey in the north. The IPC is a domestic remedy aimed to address Greek