President Gül calls on UK to take urgent steps on Cyprus

President Gül calls on UK to take urgent steps on Cyprus

President Gül calls on UK to take urgent steps on Cyprus

Ed Miliband (R), the leader of Britain’s opposition Labor Party, shakes hands with Turkish President Abdullah Gül at the Buckingham Palace in London on Nov 24. AP photo

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has urged Britain, one of Cyprus’ guarantor powers, to take action to help solve the problem of the island’s division before Greek Cyprus assumes the EU’s rotating presidency in July 2012.

 “I explained this issue to [Labour Party leader Ed] Miliband. I also talked about the issue of the Cyprus [EU] presidency term. On the unification of the island, I said that if the United Kingdom sincerely wants to take a step [on the Cyprus issue], it is just the time to do this. You will be able to take action until June 2012,” Gül was quoted as saying by private broadcaster CNNTürk.

The president returned to Turkey from an official U.K. visit last week.

“If you [want to] convince Greek Cyprus, it is just the time. If you fail to take action now and if Greek Cyprus takes the [rotating EU] presidency, why would it bother to seek a settlement? Then the island will remain two separate states and the U.K. will have to recognize [Turkish Cyprus], whom we recognize,” Gül said.

Gül said they wanted both sides of the island to reach an agreement by the end of 2011 preparatory to the holding of a referendum on the agreement.

Turkey to start land drilling in Turkish Cyprus, energy minister says

The state-run petroleum company Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) is set to start drilling for oil and natural gas in Famagusta in Turkish Cyprus, the Turkish energy minister said Nov. 26.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters that studies for oil exploration would probably be completed within the next two to three months and added that they had completed all technical preparations.

The first well will be about 3,000 meters deep, he said.

Yıldız said they would not be able to confirm the presence of oil in the area until the completion of the drilling, Doğan News Agency reported. The minister also added that land drilling would be used in the search for gas and oil.

TPAO, which has around 1,100 energy wells in Turkey, will conduct oil and gas exploration in Famagusta alone without the assistance of Royal Dutch Shell, Yıldız said.

TPAO and Shell, however, will conduct oil and natural gas exploration off the southern province of Antalya, the minister said.

TPAO and Shell signed a deal last week for the exploration and joint production of oil and natural gas off the coast of Turkey’s Mediterranean shores, as well as in Southeast Anatolia.