Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay paid a visit in secret Italy and met with Italian energy company ENI’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi.
Reportedly, only President Mustafa Akinci and PM Tufan Erhurman knew about the visit by made Ozersay and a small delegation on Monday.
Following tensions which were raised after Turkish warships prevented ENI’s drilling platform from reaching parcel 3 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), ENI asked for a meeting with Ankara. In response, Ankara told the Italian company that its interlocutor in Cyprus is the Turkish Cypriot government. After which, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly contacted the TRNC foreign ministry and invited Ozersay to Italy.
It is reported that during a four hour meeting between Ozersay and ENI’s CEO, assurance was given that “no step will be taken before a diplomatic solution in Cyprus is found”. ENI’s officials do not want to be involved in a crisis on the island, a report by BRT says, adding that they told Ozersay that they want to choose the “path of consensus”.
President Akinci was briefed in detail about the meeting with ENI and told the political party leaders yesterday that “Turkey’s determined stance on the natural gas issue is a political gain”.
Turkish Dogan News Agency (DHA) cites a “high ranking official” who said that the meeting with ENI should not be assessed only as a meeting with one company. “From now on, the other companies, the international players will be obliged to acquire the TRNC’s and the Turkish Cypriot side’s consent”. The source said added that: “The stance of Turkey here, opened the way for this process. If the Greek Cypriots choose the path of consensus, the military manoeuvres announced by Turkey in the Mediterranean will end. ENI or the other companies now know the following: The natural gas is a common wealth of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Without the Turkish Cypriots’ consent they cannot carry out drillings and in the future they will be forced to pay serious compensations”.
Meanwhile, BRT also broadcast that Ozersay evaluated his contacts in Italy in statements to Bayrak TV. He said that no one will be able to deceive the Turkish Cypriot people and Turkey any longer on the issue of the island’s natural resources and no one will be able to do anything without Turkey’s permission.
Ozersay said that except for his contacts in Italy he held other meetings abroad, but added that he could not give any details. He also argued that from now, on the Turkish Cypriot side will be an actor in international policy. From now on, the Greek Cypriot side will not be able to act alone on the natural resources issue, but if it wants cooperation “the conditions are known”, he said.
Arguing that the best solution to this would be found after the resolution of the Cyprus problem, Ozersay said that if sincerity exists, the natural resources can be jointly exploited before a solution is found.
Referring to the Cyprus talks, he also noted that in order for their recommencement to be possible, the Greek Cypriot side should show that it is ready to share the administration, the power and the natural wealth of the island. “We can discuss whether negotiations could begin, only after we see that we have a common goal”, Ozersay said.