Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged on Wednesday to protect Turkish Cypriots' right to natural gas until a fair distribution of resources is agreed upon with the Greek Cypriot administration. He also added that he will not authorize the ceasing of Turkey's drilling activities near the island.
"Turkey will never stay out of recent developments in Cyprus," Erdoğan said at an address during a reception celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation.
"Our research vessel is now continuing its drilling activities. We will continue to be there as long as the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece continue to ignore our warnings on the issue," he added.
Peace negotiations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013.
However, the Greek Cypriot side suspended them on Oct. 7 when Turkey sent the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa research vessel and military ships to accompany the Greek Cypriot mission, to show Turkey's stance on the issue.
Emphasizing the role of Turkey's diplomatic efforts in the recent reconciliation between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on oil revenues, Erdoğan said, "We have the same understanding for the island of Cyprus. I hope the success of our energy diplomacy in Iraq will be repeated in Cyprus."
The Iraqi council of ministers approved an agreement between the central government and the KRG with regards to the division of revenues for oil exports.
The agreement includes the potential export of 300,000 barrels per day from the Kirkuk oil fields through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.
Erdoğan also said that it is likely that Russia will drop the South Stream gas pipeline project in favor of a plan to build a pipeline through Turkey to supply gas to Europe.
Referring to discussions with his Russian counterpart on Dec. 1, Erdoğan said, "We arrived at a preliminary, non-binding legal agreement, and according to that, the South Stream project will be shelved. Putin himself said we can change its name to the Turkish Stream project."
The Russian-Turkish project envisions building a pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea and a distribution hub on the border between Greece and Turkey to bring gas to Europe whose capacity will be 63 billion cubic meters.
Russia's state-owned natural gas company, Gazprom, announced that they suspended the South Stream gas pipeline project last week.
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