Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said on Sunday that he would welcome a dialogue with Ankara on natural gas, before solving the Cyprus problem, only if it was between the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Turkey.

Speaking during an interview with Politis, Kombos commented on a proposal from Turkey that a natural gas arrangement could be reached between the breakaway regime and the Republic like in Israel and Lebanon, who are at odds with each other.

He said that such an agreement cannot be reached, as Israel and Lebanon are to recognised countries and the ‘TRNC’ is not recognised internationally by anyone save Turkey.

“We are ready to discuss on the basis of international law and not on the basis that would downgrade the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.

The Lebanon-Israel agreement is an EEZ (exclusive economic zone) delineation agreement. As a result of it, the two countries now have an agreed boundary between their EEZs. Secondly, it includes a provision to share any gas finds that straddle this boundary. But it does not give any rights to Israel on what Lebanon does within block 9, affected by this agreement.

In his interview, Kombos said the Republic welcomes any discussion on natural gas, with Turkey, and not the ‘authorities’ in the north.