Turkey’s marine policy continues to make waves

Prime Minister Ozkan Yorgancioglu met yesterday with the leader of the DISY party Averof Neophytou at DISY’s headquarters to find ways to break the current impasse in the Cyprus negotiations, ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports.

Both reiterated that they were committed to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Turkey’s recent marine activities in South Cyprus EEZ led to Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades leaving the talks for the present time. South Cyprus protested when Turkey deployed a warship to monitor the drilling activities by Eni-Kogas in bloc 9 of the South’s EEZ. It also claimed a large swathe of marine territory which cut across a number of the blocs, declaring that it would be operating its own seismic vessel and drilling rig in those areas.

These actions attracted criticism from various quarters including the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy yesterday.

Van Rompuy is concerned about renewed tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and called on Turkey to show restraint.

“It is essential that all parties respect the sovereignty of others and are willing to settle disputes peacefully in accordance with international law,” said the spokesman.

The UK’s Foreign Office released a statement earlier in the week recognising [South] Cyprus’ sovereign rights to exploit mineral reserves in its EEZ, which, it said, should be exploited for the benefit of all the communities in Cyprus.

In addition, the statement read that Turkey’s announcement risked raising tensions, while Greece also said that Turkey was “provoking tension”.

Publicly, the US State Department said it recognised Cyprus’ rights over the resources in its EEZ, while noting the importance of avoiding actions which intensify tensions in the region.

It added: “We continue to believe that the island’s oil and gas resources as well as all of its resources should be equitably shared between the two communities into the context of an overall settlement.”

Former Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat was quoted by ‘Halkin Sesi’ newspaper yesterday saying that the Turkish side did not seem to be on the right side of international law on this issue.

“The issue has many dimensions. To start with, nothing is solved by sending warships. Because, like it or not, the Turkish side does not seem to be right on the hydrocarbons issue under international law,” he said.

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