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Gas exploration in the EEZ could create tension: says Yildiz

7 March 2013

Turkish Energy Minister reiterated Turkey’s claims that oil exploration in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone could create tension in the area.

Turkish Minister of Energy, Taner Yildiz has stated that making explorations in territorial areas that are in contention would create concerns not only for Turkey but for other countries as well. He was referring to the oil exploration in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

Yildiz made these statements commenting on energy issues following the visit by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to Turkey.

We say there are two ways: You strengthen the legal basis, you withdraw from disputed areas, or, if you find something there, this should belong to the whole of Cyprus. This is only natural. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus said when we jointly started [explorations], that whatever found would be shared based on reasonable shares. Why should energy issues become the subject of tension when all of our relations with Greece are going well?” he said.

When asked about the fact that the Republic of Cyprus and international companies had gone ahead with exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean despite warnings from Ankara, Yildiz said: “They are continuing their work. There are some companies that took into consideration our warnings and a small number of others who did not. They will make their choices and we will make our choices. I believe it will be beneficial for all, for work to be done through consensus“.

When asked whether there was potential for the desired consensus, Yildiz said, “We saw a little bit more optimistic statements on this issue from the new leader of the Cypriot administration,” in reference to the election of Nicos Anastasiades, recently elected President of the Republic of Cyprus.

Yildiz said that while economies are becoming global, policies are becoming more national, and added that projects needed to be politically feasible.

Energy issues will not become a subject of tension between Turkey and Greece, Yildiz said, adding that Ankara has told Athens it has no current intention of conducting exploration in the countries’ shared sea.

There is no problem in energy issues,” he continued despite a divergence of views on exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean that recently drove Greece to complain to the United Nations about Turkey’s exploration efforts.

We have the intention of using energy issues not as a reason to create tension but as a reason for growth and opening. We will see whether other countries will follow this principle,” Yildiz replied when asked about the recent initiative of Greece, which said on Feb. 22 that it had notified the U.N. of Turkey’s granting of exploration permits for areas “on the Greek continental shelf.”

Greece’s move came just days ahead of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ visit to Turkey, which resulted in the signing of nearly two dozen agreements on March 4.

We can have results only if we can decide together in these sorts of joint areas. The countries need to meet at that politically feasible point,” said Yildiz.

We never took a negative move. We always said we are ready to take a positive step all the time,” he added.

When asked if there had been a positive development as far as reaching a point of consensus on the issue of exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, Yildiz said interested parties needed to take into account the advantages provided by Turkey’s geography.

These types of projects are not projects that you can pursue stubbornly. These are not projects that you can say, let’s do it whatever the cost, even if the price of gas reaches 500 dollars. I believe the technical side of the project will bring politics to a certain level,” he said.

The relevant sides know that these projects are not feasible without the participation of Cyprus“, Yildiz concluded.

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