Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci has said that the issue of natural gas has become a part of the reunification negotiations. The hydrocarbons issue could ruin reunification talks if not resolved, despite the Greek Cypriots’ insistence that the matter is unrelated.
President Akinci, in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), said, ahead of his meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades on 9 August, that they should come up with a way to resolve the matter to avoid further tensions.
“It has become a chapter of our lives, it is among the important topics in the news and it has become an issue which, if properly regulated, could help in reaching a solution,” Akinci told CNA. “But if it is handled wrongly, like today, then it could wreck the solution.”
Akinci said it was only logical that the issue be discussed. He noted that he had urged Anastasiades repeatedly to handle it jointly, as far back as May 2015 before the resumption of reunification talks. Both sides are obliged to discuss the issue, under the current circumstances, he said.
Akinci said that natural gas issues are considered a matter to be handled by the future federal government and the Turkish Cypriot side has no objection with that.
He added, however, that there was no solution at the moment and it would be only logical to have a joint committee to look at this issue together, launch a programme or at least discuss shares.
In July, President Akinci had proposed that a joint committee be established to manage the hydrocarbon issue, to the benefit of both communities. The suggestion had been rejected, out of hand, by a council of political party leaders, headed by Anastasiades.
Akinci said that this was wrong. Foreign diplomats had told him that they had found his proposal reasonable, he said.
He also dismissed the idea that his side was asking for an equal share of future revenues. “We said that we should discuss a reasonable share”, Akinci said.
When he meets with Anastasiades on 9 August, he intends to clarify the need to solve this problem, said Akinci.
“It may not be part of the negotiating chapters, but it is a chapter of our lives, of our region and the cause of tension”, he said.
Akinci warned that the Turkish Cypriots would not accept a situation where the Greek Cypriot side sells gas from the Aphrodite field to Egypt and begins to collect revenues from sales, without reference to them, because the Greek Cypriots first insist on waiting for a solution to the Cyprus problem.