Turkey offers ‘joint committee’ for deadlock in Cyprus talks after ‘private firm’ suggestion

Turkey offers ‘joint committee’ for deadlock in Cyprus talks after ‘private firm’ suggestion

Turkey offers ‘joint committee’ for deadlock in Cyprus talks after ‘private firm’ suggestion

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) meets his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Özkan Yorgancıoğlu in Ankara on Nov. 25. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called for the formation of a “joint committee” between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots to resolve the controversy over the use of energy resources off of Cyprus.

The prime minister’s remarks came just a day after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu proposed the establishment of a private company to continue oil and gas drilling activities in the Mediterranean until a resolution can be found to the decades-old Cyprus issue.

In a joint statement issued after talks with visiting Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Özkan Yorgancıoğlu, Davutoğlu said Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades has consistently attempted to gain time by feigning discontent on a variety of occasions, "with Turkey’s seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean his latest excuse."

“However, since the very beginning, we have argued the opinion that natural resources in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone would be a driving force for peace,” he added.

Turkey has favored the use of natural resources to strengthen Cyprus following any peace deal, while also laying the groundwork for “a joint eastern Mediterranean peace to be built by Turkey and Greece,” he stressed.

“If this will be difficult and will take time and negotiations will go on for a while and though we would wish them to be finalized at once, then we have proposed the foundation of a joint committee. Let this joint committee deal with the use of these natural resources via actions overseeing the rights of both sides,” Davutoğlu said, adding that despite all of Turkey’s calls, Greek Cyprus has insisted on launching bids to unilaterally exploit the divided island’s resources.

“Now our call is clear again: Intensified negotiations for peace and an immediate resolution. If this doesn’t happen, then establish a committee and use the natural resources in a way that encourages peace. However, if both of these are refused, then it should be known that neither Turkey nor the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can be shut out of the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

Last month, Turkey dispatched a warship-escorted research vessel to waters where Greek Cyprus has already provided licenses for companies to drill. Anastasiades responded by suspending U.N.-mediated reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened after a coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a state and is the only country to recognize a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.

The Greek Cypriot government has said Turkish Cypriots can share in the potential gas bounty and the minerals can be piped to Turkey only after a reunification accord is achieved, stressing that it could act as an incentive for peace.