The fact that both sides in Cyprus do not recognise each other does not mean that the two sides cannot cooperate, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay has said.
Ozersay was addressing a meeting organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association in Ankara,
Touching on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Ozersay said that the Turkish Cypriot side did not desire conflict over hydrocarbons.
Underlining the need to cooperate on the issue, Ozersay reminded that the two sides had cooperated in the past, as was the case in 2011 when the TRNC had sold electricity to the South via the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce after an explosion near the main power plant in South Cyprus had left the Greek Cypriot side with limited a limited electricity supply. [On 11 July 2011, a large amount of ammunition and military explosives that had been stored outdoors for over two years at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base near Zygi, self-detonated, killing 13 people. The explosion also severely damaged the adjacent-lying Vasilikos power station, which supplied half the electricity for South Cyprus.]
He said that the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report, had called on the two sides to cooperate on civilian and military matters which showed that both the UN and the international community supported this. Ozersay added that cooperation between the two sides on the issue of energy could be carried out via international companies.
The issue of natural gas could become a real opportunity if international companies currently carrying out activities on behalf of the Greek Cypriot side pressured the Greek Cypriot leadership to cooperate with Turkish Cypriots, he added.
Ozersay warned that Turkey and the TRNC will be taking more steps on the issue if the international actors fail to “persuade the Greek Cypriots to cooperate”. “This, of course, will not mean using force but expanding our drilling activities”, he noted.
Asked whether there was a chance of an outbreak of conflict, Ozersay said that this could have happened if Turkey had not balanced the playing field by launching its own activities. “Such a possibility is currently low”, he added.
The foreign minister also said that the policies pursued in the Eastern Mediterranean were independent of the Cyprus negotiations process.
Also touching on the issue of fenced-off town of Varosha/Maraş, Ozersay reminded that an inventory on immovable and other properties in the town was currently being prepared. He reiterated the government’s intention to take action once the inventory was completed.
“Our government’s position on the matter is clear. That is the fenced-off town of Varosha needs to become part of everyday life in the area without waiting for a solution. The rights of former residents and the Vakiflar Administration will not be ignored. The goal is to change the military status of the area and to open the fenced-off two section by section to civilian settlement. All our steps will be in line with the results of the inventory being conducted”, he stated.