Turkey will drill for gas until Greek Cypriots accept plan, minister says

The drill ship Yavuz at the port of Dilovasi outside Istanbul on June 20 ahead of deployment to Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone

The drill ship Yavuz at the port of Dilovasi outside Istanbul on June 20 ahead of deployment to Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone

The Republic insists that Turkey's drilling operations are contrary to global law and that decisions on hydrocarbons are its sovereign right, while Ankara says Greek Cypriot authorities can't decide for the whole island, and that waters around Cyprus lie on its own continental shelf.

News about the proposal came originally in a statement by the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, which expressed its support to it, saying that if adopted it would "initiate a new period of cooperation between the two parties".

With tension mounting over Turkish drilling for gas in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, ) Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has proposed a joint committee with Greek-Cypriots to review how to proceed and reduce the risk of a conflict.

Akinci has repeatedly called for the creation of such a committee that he says would give his community a say in how newly found gas deposits off Cyprus' southern coast are managed and future proceeds are divvied up.

"The main reason for the failure of these negotiations is that the Greek Cypriot side refuses to share power with the Turkish Cypriots", the top Turkish diplomat said.

Greek Cypriots claim that they preserve Turkish Cypriots' share to be given them following the settlement but "it is not acceptable for neither us nor the Turkish Cypriots that the Turkish Cypriots would leave their rights after a solution which has been prevented by the Greek Cypriots", said Cavusoglu. The proposal was presented to the United Nations.

Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels - Fatih and most recently Yavuz - to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.

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The proposal was welcomed in a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The committee would be made up of an equal number of members from both communities and would fall under U.N with the European Union acting as an observer although both bodies have failed to make any progress with Erdogan and the United Nations has ignored Cypriot pleas.

Mr Akinci's proposal comes at a time when the European Union is preparing sanctions against Turkey for dispatching a second vessel to an area where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights in order to start drilling, an activity that has been condemned by European Union member states.

Turkey, which has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus, is the only country that recognises the breakaway state in the north of the island.

Turkey will continue its activities in Eastern Mediterranean unless there is a cooperation between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, the Turkish foreign minister said on Sunday.

The Greek Cypriot government has also launched legal proceedings against three firms that it accuses of supporting illegal Turkish oil and gas exploration in its waters. Cyprus has already issued around 20 worldwide arrest warrants against three global companies assisting one of the two Turkish vessels now drilling 42 miles (68 kilometers) off the island's west coast. A similar proposal was made by Akinci's predecessor Dervis Eroglu in 2011.

The Cypriot government says energy discussions should form part of overarching peace talks.

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