TRNC, Türkiye to block 'unilateral' Greek Cypriot activity in East Med - M5 Dergi
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TRNC, Türkiye to block ‘unilateral’ Greek Cypriot activity in East Med

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The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and its guarantor power Türkiye will continue taking action to counter the one-sided activities led by the Greek Cypriot administration in the Eastern Mediterranean, the country’s Foreign Ministry declared.

The ministry’s remarks came a day after the Greek Cypriot administration announced that a consortium made up of energy companies, Eni from Italy and France’s Total, was expediting plans to develop natural gas deposits off Greek-administered Cyprus following the discovery of a third field containing 2 trillion-3 trillion cubic feet of hydrocarbon inside the same licensed exploration area.

“The activities conducted in the sixth parcel of the so-called ‘exclusive economic zone’ Greek Cypriot administration has unilaterally determined violate the rights of Turkish Cypriot people,” the ministry said in a written statement.

The said parcel also coincides with Türkiye’s continental shelf, the ministry argued. “So long as the Greek Cypriot administration, which never shies away from taking steps that raise the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, keeps usurping the rights of Turkish Cypriots, we, along with the Republic of Türkiye, will continue taking the necessary measures to protect our legitimate rights and interests,” it stressed.

The TRNC has raised on four separate occasions suggestions for comprehensive and constructive cooperation for resolving the hydrocarbon resources issue that has become an element of strain in the region through dialogue, the ministry recalled.

“We remind the international community, as well as companies and countries involved, that the Greek Cypriot administration does not represent Turkish Cypriot people; it does not have the authority to make decisions on behalf of us, and all unilateral activities it has been conducting under the so-called ‘Republic of Cyprus’ name regarding the maritime jurisdiction of the island are illegitimate,” it said.

The Turkish Cypriot government also emphasized that Türkiye’s suggestion to organize a regional Eastern Mediterranean Conference with the participation of all relevant actors from the region maintained its validity.

“Our proposal to cooperate about the matter is still on the table,” the ministry concluded.

Greek Cyprus has been looking to garner the “promising potential of the area” and export hydrocarbon amid an energy crisis compounded by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

There is enough natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean area for export until at least 2050, according to an analysis by the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, a body composed of Greece, Italy, Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, France, Jordan and Palestine, in which Türkiye and the TRNC are not included.

Ankara deems the forum an unrealistic formation, as it ignores the rights of the TRNC. Türkiye stresses that some countries with political motives established the forum and are dreaming of leaving Türkiye out of the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In response to Greek-administered Cyprus’ unilateral drilling, Türkiye and Libya’s United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed two separate pacts in 2019 – one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the region.

Building on the pacts, Tripoli and Ankara expanded their collaboration and inked another energy exploration agreement in October, a move that drew anger from Greece, Egypt and the Greek Cypriot administration who argue that neither side has a right to drill in the disputed areas.

The island of Cyprus has been doomed to a decadeslong struggle between its two people, Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Ethnic attacks starting in the 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety and a 1974 coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Türkiye’s military intervention.

The conflict has been ongoing for long years, drawing multiple international efforts for a solution. The U.N. has been working for years to reach a comprehensive agreement on the Cyprus issue, proposing a reunification plan for a federation and sponsoring peace talks that eventually broke down.

While Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration support the U.N.’s suggestion of a federal Greek Cypriot administration, the TRNC and its guarantor Türkiye have been resolutely calling for a two-state solution, stressing that “the sovereign equality and the equal international status of the Turkish Cypriots are non-negotiable.”

As guarantor power, Türkiye is also at loggerheads with its Aegean neighbor Greece over both the Cyprus issue and gas and oil exploration rights in their shared waters.

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