Turkey supports TRNC’s proposal to Greek Cyprus

Turkish Black Sea Gas
The Turkish drill ship Yavuz has been exploring near Cyprus in the Mediteranean as its sister vessel, the Fatih, scored a major find in the Black Sea.

Greek Cyprus on Tuesday rejected a proposal by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to establish a cooperation mechanism to address sharing of hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı presented the proposal through the United Nations last week, calling for the joint use of Cypriot resources and cooperation between the two sides in the search for gas off the island.

Greek Cypriot news sources reported Tuesday that party leaders rejected the proposal in a meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.

A joint statement issued by the Council of Presidents, composed of the heads of Greek Cypriot political parties, said the proposal was far from the essence of the Cyprus problem and could not be accepted because it contained elements that did not serve Greek Cypriot interests.

Turkey on Saturday had expressed its support for the proposal, calling on the U.N., EU and particularly the guarantor states to take the opportunity afforded by the proposal and to encourage cooperation on the island’s hydrocarbon resources.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.

Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels – Fatih and most recently Yavuz – to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.

The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday that Turkey will be sending a fourth ship to the region.

On Monday, the European Council took punitive measures against Turkey for its drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, publishing a final declaration saying it will “suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agree not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being.”

The council also endorsed a proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invited the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending.

The Foreign Ministry responded early Tuesday by saying the EU’s decisions would not affect Turkey’s determination to continue hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.