Greek Cyprus’s statements on east Med are attempt to stall: Minister of Energy
Greek Cyprus is in a bid to “stall for time” by rejecting the Turkish Cyprus’s proposal for cooperation on the joint exploration and profit-sharing of hydrocarbon resources while suggesting cooperation with Turkey, Turkish energy minister Fatih Dönmez has said.
“We do not approve an offer that ignores the Turkish Cyprus. Greek Cypriots need to seriously evaluate the proposal for a cooperation committee. I think the statements of Greek Cypriot foreign minister is to stall for time,” Dönmez told reporters on July 18.
“Greek Cyprus has been acting like they own the island. The most serious measure is Turkish Cyprus’s offer for a joint committee,” he added. He was referring to a recent statement by Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides’ on suggesting cooperation with Turkey.
“Cooperation with Turkey will benefit all sides. The tension in the region must be decreased. We cannot change geography, but we have to find solutions to regional problems, with regional countries,” Christodoulides said on July 17, during his speech at a conference in Greece.
Dönmez also recalled the Annan Plan, a U.N. proposal for the reunification of Cyprus, was accepted by Turkish Cyprus, yet the Greek Cypriots did not reciprocate the move.
“If that plan was accepted then, maybe, we would not be witnessing such disputes today,” he added.
The sanction decisions by the European Union are “legally baseless,” according to Dönmez. “There were also some threats towards the drilling vessel crew, yet we see this as legally groundless.”
“Our work is ongoing. The [sanctions decision] did not cause any trouble. These actually aim at intimidation. We are aware of the fact that these have been done to halt the operations,” he added.
The Fatih drilling vessel has a one-month mission in the eastern Mediterranean, the minister conveyed, adding that Yavuz, the second vessel from Turkey, has recently reached its destination.
A seismic detection vessel, Oruç Reis, will set sail to the eastern Mediterranean, Dönmez added.
Dönmez also refuted claims by a Greek Cyprus newspaper, Phileleftheros, regarding alleged Turkish discovery of natural gas in the region.
“We think this can be provocation [for the EU sanctions decision].”
“It is early to say something without having reached the target. We will announce when we find it. Fatih still has three or four weeks of work,” he said, elaborating on the vessel’s drilling activities.
“It would be misleading to give figures in this very day,” he added, referring to possible hydrocarbon reserves that the vessels are seeking.
The minister also apprised that Turkish Petroleum has been conducting meetings with other companies concerning the drilling activities.
Turkey’s two drilling ships, Yavuz and Fatih, have recently been dispatched to the region with the support of the Turkish Navy. Turkey’s first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been carrying out exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Following a decision by the European Council to impose sanctions on Ankara over it is drilling activities in the east Mediterranean, Ankara announced that Turkey will send a fourth ship to the eastern Mediterranean as part of its hydrocarbon drilling activities.