Greek Cypriot opposition leader to visit Ankara amid tensions over natural gas

Published 19.11.2018 18:45

The Secretary-General of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) Andros Kyprianou is expected to pay a visit to Ankara as tensions over natural gas in Cyprus continue.

Kyprianou will arrive in Ankara on Nov. 23 and attend an event organized by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is also expected to attend the gathering. Following the event, Çavuşoğlu and Kyprianou will hold talks.

Kyprianou, who is known for his opposition to Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiadis, has been stressing that if the Cyprus issue cannot be resolved soon, the divisions will be permanent.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have been rising, as Ankara continues to stress that it is against unilateral steps in the island which would undermine the rights of one group.

In its latest message, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said Sunday that Turkey will not accept a unilateral gas search in the Eastern Mediterranean that presents a threat to a solution in Cyprus.

"ExxonMobil's initiation of a natural gas search in the so-called 10th parcel given by the Greek Cypriot Administration off the island of Cyprus does not contribute to the stability of the region. It might also change certain fragile balances for the solving of the problem," Aksoy said.

Saying that the natural resources around the Mediterranean island do not only belong to one side, Aksoy added: "We had warned the Greek Cypriot Administration to stop the unilateral hydrocarbon facilities in Eastern Mediterranean."

Aksoy said that Turkey will continue to support the interests of the Turkish Cypriot people in the Turkish Republic of the North Cyprus (TRNC).

"We will start to operate in the permitted extraction zones given to the Turkish Petroleum by the TRNC in addition to our continental shelf," he added.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean while arguing that the Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

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