Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay completed his visit to New York and flew to Washington DC, where he addressed the Atlantic Council.
He told the council that both sides in Cyprus should begin to cooperate on a wide range of issues without waiting for a solution to the Cyprus problem. It was a mistake, he said, to link all matters to the decades-long Cyprus problem.
“The two sides should be able to cooperate, without having to wait for a settlement, on a wide range of issues such as natural gas, crime and extradition, the fight against money laundering and terrorism”, Ozersay argued. This, he said, was the only genuine way to building an environment of trust between the two sides on the island.
Pointing to the importance of cooperation to achieve peace and stability in the region, Ozersay said that when a massive explosion occurred in 2011 at a naval base, seriously damaging the neighbouring main power plant at Mari, South Cyprus experienced serious power shortages. Although reluctant at first, the Greek Cypriots agreed to purchased electricity from the North. An agreement which was brokered by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
“The Greek Cypriot side had hesitated at first but later turned around, did what was pragmatic, showed the necessary flexibility and purchased electricity needed from the North”, said Ozersay.
“We saw that if there is a will there is a way. We saw that it was possible to cooperate on a wide range of issues through mutual need and pragmatism”, he added.
Referring to the issue of hydrocarbons, Ozersay said that the reason for the Greek Cypriot side’s reluctance to cooperate on the issue was because of the international community’s approach to the issue.
“While one side is able to benefit from this wealth, the other side, an equal partner in that wealth, is told by the international community that it can only benefit from this wealth as and when a settlement is reached. Naturally such a stance discourages the Greek Cypriots from cooperating on this issue”, he concluded.