July a natural date for Cyprus solution: Turkish Cypriot leader
NICOSIAJuly is a not an official but a “natural end-date” for a solution to be found in the more than 40-year-long Cyprus conflict, Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı has stated.
Speaking at a culture and arts festival in Turkish Cyprus, Akıncı said July was a natural time for a conclusion if no official end date is fixed, referring to the statement from the Greek Cypriot administration that exploration for hydrocarbon resources would start in the first half of July.
“Making explorations [for hydrocarbons] in Eastern Mediterranean at a time when there is not an agreement [on Cyprus] would mean supporting the Turkish [Cypriot] side acting similarly,” Akıncı said on April 16.
Complaining that when he voices his thoughts on the Greek Cypriot administration’s announcement of the start of exploration activities in July it is presented as if Akıncı is “threatening” them, he said it was simply a “statement of what will happen.”
“Both of the two nations [of the island] have a right to a share of the natural gas resources,” said Akıncı, adding that these resources could only be explored through “cooperation reached in peace and resolution.”
The Greek Cypriot administration signed new contracts with Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum on April 5, and ENI and Total a day later for licenses to carry out hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation off Cyprus. The companies are expected to start their explorations before the end of this year.
Peace talks resumed on April 11 after a two-month suspension due to the Greek Cypriot Parliament’s decision to mark a 1950 referendum seeking union with Greece at schools.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, meanwhile, has said Cyprus is at a “vital moment” in the U.N.-backed peace process, but admitted that differences with Akıncı remain.
“We find ourselves before critical and defining developments for the future of our homeland,” Anastasiades said in a televised Easter address, AFP reported.
The Mediterranean resort island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops intervened in the northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup.