Greek Cyprus president suspends peace talks

Greek Cyprus president suspends peace talks

Greek Cyprus president suspends peace talks

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades speaks during an interview with Reuters in Nicosia, April 9. REUTERS Photo

Greek Cyprus’ president has suspended talks on reunifying the ethnically divided island in response to Turkey’s plans to search for oil and gas in waters where the Greek Cypriot government has already licensed companies to drill.

Greek Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said Oct. 7 decision was the result of what he called Turkey’s "provocative" and "aggressive" actions that violate Greek Cyprus’ sovereign rights and international law.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades made the decision after consulting with party leaders. Christodoulides didn’t say when peace talks might resume, adding that any decision would be made according to developments.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus had announced on Oct. 3 that a Bahama-registered ship, SAIPEM 10000, began hydrocarbon exploration in Block 9, in an area southeast of the island that Greek Cypriots have declared an exclusive economic zone ex parte or unilaterally.

Turkey disputes Greek Cyprus’ rights to a swathe of sea to the island’s south and southeast that are rich in natural gas reserves, adding to long-standing tensions between the neighbors.

The Turkish government says all revenues obtained from the drilling operations off the coast of Cyprus should be distributed between Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus, and have frequently warned that Turkey would undertake unilateral drilling in the event of any failure to equitably share revenues.