South Cyprus has dismissed a proposal by Turkey that both sides suspend drilling activities offshore Cyprus until a solution to the Cyprus problem is found.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that if the Greek Cypriots refused, Turkey would continue with its exploration for hydrocarbons offshore the island.
“These [Turkish Cypriot] rights can only be guaranteed either by jointly suspending all offshore activities in the south of the island until a comprehensive settlement is reached in Cyprus, or by launching a cooperation mechanism by the Greek Cypriots with the Turkish Cypriots in accordance with the 13 July 2019 proposal, otherwise, Turkey will continue resolutely to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots”, a statement by Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.
The 13 July proposal referred to by Aksoy was a suggestion made by President Mustafa Akinci, for co-management on gas searches by Greek and Turkish Cypriots, including on revenue sharing from hydrocarbons profits.
South Cyprus government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios responded by saying that Turkey had been flouting international law. The premise that the Greek Cypriots were “usurping” the rights of the Turkish Cypriots was false, he said.
“The government wishes once again to stress that the pretext invoked by Turkey, that it is supposedly protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots, is baseless and moreover incommensurate with international law and the Law of the Sea (Unclos 1982)”, Kousios said.