Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister and candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, Kudret Ozersay, said that if elected, he will be able to negotiate the sharing of gas resources found offshore of Cyprus before the solution of the Cyprus problem. Speaking on a television programme, Ozersay said the following regarding a settlement of the Cyprus issue:
“[…] If we have been negotiating the federal bi-communal solution for 52 years, but at the same time almost all of us see that in these conditions, the leadership of the Greek Cypriot administration is not ready to share with us the administration and wealth, to negotiate the same thing means imprisoning the Turkish Cypriot people at the negotiating table. I make no promise that the Turkish Cypriot people will be tethered to the negotiating table. Federalism can be tried in Cyprus by following a different path, but I do not think it is right to begin from the point that has been used until today. As long as conditions do not change, as long as the Greek Cypriot side continues to be the only recognised state on the island, as long as it is within the EU.”
Noting that the person who is elected as President of the TRNC should first of all negotiate the sharing of resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, Ozersay said that when he expressed this view 4-5 years ago he was told that this issue could not be discussed without resolving the Cyprus issue. Arguing that the situation is different today, Ozersay said:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs developed the proposal submitted by President Mustafa Akinci to the Greek Cypriot side. Given the current state of affairs, following talks held by an EU Commissioner, he began to mention that the parties could discuss the sharing of gas even before the Cyprus problem is solved. In contacts in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, she said the sides should sit down and negotiate gas sharing even before a solution is found, and that this is necessary to prevent conflict and tension. And UN officials are sending similar messages.
“Let’s start somewhere, force the distribution of gas before the solution. If this task should fall to me, I believe I could achieve this. We must continue to work with Turkey on the ground, as it happens today, not in words. If we follow these issues at the level of the President of the Republic in the Eastern Mediterranean region and can put on the table our will to share this natural wealth, the Turks of Cyprus can play the game in this region. […] The status quo is maintained by the idea of continuing the Cyprus negotiations – burying our heads in the sand. “
Deputy PM Ozersay went on to accuse President Mustafa Akinci of pursuing a policy of chaining the Turkish Cypriots to the negotiating table, Ozersay said Akinci was not seeking TRNC rights with an active gas policy and diplomacy and had not raised the issue internationally. Akinci, he said, had merely conveyed the suggestion of sharing resources prior to a solution to the Cyprus problem to the Greek Cypriot side; an idea formulated by the Foreign Ministry. However, Akinci had made no effort to lobby the international community on this and other issues, said Ozersay.
Citing an example of the active policy he has pursued, Ozersay said he made his first visit since taking office, to Rome and not the usual venue of Ankara to meet with EMI officials.