The Greek Cypriot side is not ready for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, President Mustafa Akıncı has said. However, he has suggested that there could be an intermediate arrangement on the issue of sharing hydrocarbons offshore the island. This could be achieved through dialogue in cooperation with Turkey, he said.
Speaking about the latest developments in the standoff between Turkey and South Cyprus on CNN Turk on Sunday evening, Akıncı said, “Because this wealth is a common wealth. It is not the property of the Greek Cypriots alone”.
Akıncı stated that the main reason for the problem is that the Greek Cypriot side believes that everything is within its own jurisdiction and wants to solely own the undersea natural gas and oil deposits.
President Akıncı said that the Greek Cypriot side, which ruled the Cyprus Republic in its entirety by excluding the Turkish Cypriots in 1963, is now expanding its sovereign territory and is trying to claim sole ownership of the natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Turkish Cypriot President emphasised that the Greek Cypriot side no longer has a policy of solving the Cyprus problem. However, in order to ease the rising tension over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean he said that, “What needs to be done is to transform this area into a field of cooperation to eliminate tensions”.
Even if the Greek Cypriot side is not ready to settle today, they should find a way to deal with the Turkish Cypriots using intermediate formulas through dialogue on natural gas.
President Akıncı recalled that the Turkish Cypriot side had been constantly warning the Greek Cypriot side during the Cyprus negotiations process about this issue and had proposed establishing a joint committee on this issue. The Greek Cypriot side was not proposing to “explore these natural riches together and transform the issue into a business alliance”. Their attitude was that was not a matter of negotiation but a tradition of their own jurisdiction. “We do not talk to Turkish Cypriots”, he said.
The President went on to say that the Greek Cypriot side along with Greece had seized the opportunity to benefit from Turkey’s deteriorating relations with some countries in the region, and was attempting to conclude EEZ alliances with countries such as Egypt, Israel and Jordan. It was also trying to put Turkey into conflict with the ‘big powers’, which was evident, he said, from the companies they had chosen to carry out exploration such as TotalFrance, Italian energy company ENI and US companies such as ExxonMobil and Noble Energy.
“By licensing these companies, in a sense, the Greek Cypriots are attempting to place Turkey in confrontation with these states,” said Akıncı. Finally, the King of Jordan also visited South Cyprus. This can be regarded as a part of these efforts, he said.
He also pointed to the most practical route of conveying gas through Turkey for Turkish and European markets. South Cyprus was trying to bypass this route by proposing an undersea gas pipeline to Europe via Crete.
“The European Union has also provided financing support to the Greek Cypriot side”, President Akıncı said, “The EU has allocated millions of Euros for its feasibility”, he said.
“Turkey is, by far, the shortest, most practical, fastest and cheapest route. Unfortunately, the Greek Cypriots did not opt for this reasoning, this way of cooperation, and consequently have laid the groundwork for tense scenarios”, President Akıncı concluded.