Turkish Cypriots make proposal for joint committee on hydrocarbons

Xinhua News Agency | Jul 13, 2019 at 4:22 PM

NICOSIA, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has formalized a proposal floated by Turkey over the past two years for a joint committee with Greek Cypriots to deal with natural gas exploration, a statement from Akinci's office said on Saturday.

The statement did not give details of the proposal, but said that it was submitted through the office of the Special Advisor of the UN Secretary General so as Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades "will have the opportunity of evaluating it and then the two leaders to discuss it at a meeting".

It also said that Akinci notified its proposal to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

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."

The statement said the proposal was aimed at creating a cooperation mechanism between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, describing them as co-owners of hydrocarbon resources to which they had equal rights.

"As such, the proposal envisages cooperation including revenue sharing and enables the two sides to benefit from hydrocarbon resources simultaneously," the Turkish ministry said.

The Cypriot government says that this issue had been agreed upon during negotiations for a Cyprus solution on the understanding that the handling of the hydrocarbons issue was in the remit of a federal government and that proceeds from the sale of gas would benefit all Cypriots in an equitable way.

In Nicosia, state-run Cyprus News Agency quoted an unnamed government source as saying that Akinci's proposal, at a time when plans were made for the arrival in Cyprus of Jane Holl Lute, the UN secretary general's envoy on Cyprus for consultations on the restart of peace negotiations "upset everything."

The source was also quoted as saying what takes precedence is the visit by Lute in Cyprus and her talks with the two sides for the resumption of negotiation.

Akinci's proposal came after the European Union had announced that it plans sanctions on Turkey over what the European Commission said were illegal drillings by Turkish drill ships in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone.

The measures, expected to be approved by European foreign ministers on Monday in Brussels, include termination of high level consultations with Turkey, cuts in accession funding, the cancellation of talks for a new air agreement between EU and Turkey and targeted measures against people and companies assisting Turkey's drilling.

Turkey dismissed the sanctions and said that Ankara was resolved to protect the "equal rights of the Turkish Cypriots" over maritime gas resources, as well as Turkey's own "continental shelf rights in the eastern Mediterranean".