The Greek Cypriot administration will not be permitted to continue engaging in unilateral natural gas exploration activities in the Mediterranean without the consent of Turkish Cypriots, the foreign minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said yesterday. In a written statement, Kudret Özersay, also the deputy prime minister, said the Turkish Cypriot government would not allow the Greek Cypriot administration to continue with its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities without reaching an agreement with the Turkish administration.
"They cannot continue before the Cyprus issue is settled, or, if it would not be possible, without reaching an understanding with the Turkish Cypriot side," he said.
Özersay stressed that if the unilateral activities being undertaken by the Greek side did not turn into a conflict, it was on account of the "cold-blooded approach" of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
The minister said it was "unfair and unacceptable" for the Greek Cypriot administration to take advantage of the status quo arising from the very problems which could not be solved due to its own reluctance.
"Unfortunately the membership of the Greek Cypriots in the European Union [EU] took place in the same manner. We are intent on not allowing a similar development to take place on the issue of natural gas," he said.
Özersay reminded that the Turkish Cypriots had equal rights on the natural resources.
"On the one hand, they [the Greek side] recognize that we are one of the owners of this richness, and on the other hand, they want to try to continue along this path by disregarding us. This is in line with neither international law nor the notion of justice. If you acknowledge the existence of somebody's rights, you have to act accordingly," he said.
"For one, these resources belong to us as well. So before you take any action regarding these resources, you have to win the consent of the Turkish community and address their concerns."
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. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K., collapsing in 2017.
Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the failure of the talks, also faulting the EU for admitting the Greek Cypriot administration into the union in 2004 although Greek Cypriot voters had recently rejected a peace deal.