The TRNC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Thursday, 28th November saying that it is the government’s right to carry out explorations for natural resources in the island’s exclusive economic zone.
The statement says that based on the existing rights of the Turkish Cypriot people on the island’s continental shelf, on 22nd September 2011, the TRNC’s Council of Ministers licensed the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to explore/extract oil/natural gas in pre-determined fields. Within this framework, the first seismic explorations were carried out at the end of 2011.
TPAO’s seismic exploration vessel ‘Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha’ arrived in the area in order to carry out more detailed explorations in the licensed fields within the scope of the Agreement signed on 2nd November 2011 with the TRNC Government.
The Turkish Cypriots, who co-own the island of Cyprus, as on every issue, have equal and inseparable rights in the exploring, extracting, and managing the natural resources, which are under the island’s area of jurisdiction. Within this framework, it is natural for the Turkish Cypriot side to carry out works in the licensed fields it had determined. The reactions exhibited by the South Cyprus Greek Administration based on the rejection of the existence of the TRNC are groundless and unwarranted. It can be recalled that, in fact, it was the Greek Cypriot side that threatened stability by launching unilateral actions in the area, it becomes, once again evident that these reactions are deprived of reasoning.
The Turkish Cypriot side has maintained from the very beginning and still holds the belief that, with good will and mutual understanding, it would be possible to share the island’s natural resources. The proposals, which the Turkish Cypriot side submitted to the Greek Cypriot side and to the UN Secretary-General on 24th September 2011 and 29th September 2012 asking for a fair share of the island’s natural resources, are still valid. The Greek Cypriot side, which gave no positive response to these proposals, continues its unilateral efforts to explore and extract hydrocarbons in the area, ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
The allegations published in the Greek Cypriot press that the decision by the Turkish Cypriots to carry out seismic surveying around that island, deliberately coincided with the meeting of the two Cypriot Presidents, cannot be serious, as it is impossible to ignore the fact that such an operation was the result of long term planning. Furthermore, the TRNC’s efforts directed toward resuming the Cyprus talks are well-known by the international community which is also familiar with the Greek Cypriot side’s unwillingness to resolve this issue.
The statement concludes that the best way forward to secure peace and stability on the island and in the Eastern Mediterranean is for the Greek Cypriot side to resume negotiations aimed at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, and to put an end to its policies of increasing tension in the area. Until a comprehensive solution is reached, it should contribute to carrying out exploration/extraction activities on common ground which could be determined by mutual agreement until a comprehensive solution is reached.