Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara yesterday.
Alongside bilateral relations, the two mainly discussed the hydrocarbon issue.
The two foreign ministers met face to face at the Foreign Ministry residence, following which, a working lunch was held for the delegations of both countries. Özersay and Çavuşoğlu then held a joint press conference.
Speaking there, Minister Özersay said they had held fruitful meetings in Ankara and added “we, as the TRNC, feel extremely lucky because we have a guarantor and a strategic partner like Turkey.”
Emphasising the strength of the Republic of Turkey, Özersay said that Turkey has always and will continue to stand by the Turkish Cypriot side.
He also underlined that Turkey and the TRNC were in full consensus on the future of the Cyprus problem, on maritime jurisdictions and on the issue of natural gas.
Expressing the need to discuss the fundamentals of these issues and to determine whether or not the two sides have a common vision rather than focusing on the format of the Cyprus negotiations, Özersay said they were determined to peacefully carry the process further with the aim of reaching a solution.
Touching upon maritime jurisdiction and the issue of hydrocarbons, Minister Özersay said “The Greek Cypriot side, particularly, should show, in some way, that it is ready to share this wealth with the Turkish Cypriots. We will not hesitate to protect our rights together with Turkey in the period ahead. We shall maintain this firm stance.”
“There is still a possibility for a diplomatic solution and through consultation with Turkey, there is a window of opportunity. We stress that this window of opportunity is open but we also state that we are determined to protect our rights not only in words but with actions as well”, Özersay said.
He also added if the Greek Cypriot side held unilateral hydrocarbon activities, the Turkish side will respond in a similar manner.
“We’ve said before that if you keep insisting on carrying unilateral activities and issuing drilling licenses to companies as you do, we too will carry out such activities. Now, we have come to this final stage. If they continue to insist on unilateral activities then the TRNC in consultation with Turkey will start drilling activities through the Turkish Petroleum it has authorised. This will not happen in the distant future” Özersay warned.
Asked whether the Derinya and Aplıç crossing points which were supposed to be open within the framework of the agreement reached as part of the confidence building measures in May 2015 will be opened or not, he said “although there was a similar agreement in the past towards the opening of the Yeşilırmak crossing point unfortunately the Greek Cypriot side did not keep its promise. The TRNC supports the opening of both the Derinya and the Aplıç crossing points.”
Stating that they observed that the Greek Cypriot side did not do its part for the opening of the Aplıç crossing point, Özersay said “we support the opening of both gates, if not on the same date then in a short time apart.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu for his part said they discussed the ways to further strengthen the ties between the two countries, the work towards increasing the visibility and international effectiveness of the TRNC and the issue of increasing the number of TRNC representation offices.
He added that they also discussed what can be done regarding the Greek Cypriot Administration’s unilateral hydrocarbon activities as well as within which parameters and aims the negotiations could be conducted thereafter.
Çavuşoğlu stressed that the Greek Cypriot side should cease its unilateral hydrocarbon drilling and research activities.
“We conveyed our messages related with this issue to the UN, the EU and all other relevant institutions and countries which are interested in Cyprus. We once again want to stress that we will not allow the Greek Cypriot side’s such unilateral activities”, he added.
Çavuşoğlu also pointed out that Turkey as a guarantor power in Cyprus was obliged to protect the rights of the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriot people.