Turkey's foreign minister on Monday said a hydrocarbon cooperation proposal which was rejected by the Greek Cypriot side is still on the table.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mustafa Akinci, president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), in the capital Lefkosa, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Greek Cypriot side pursues unilateral acts and does not intend to share the island's natural resources.
"The Greek Cypriot administration immediately rejected the Turkish Cypriot side's proposal for hydrocarbon cooperation, dated July 13, as it did in 2011 and 2012, but this proposal is still on the table," Cavusoglu said.
He went on to say the Greek Cypriot side should take this proposal into consideration and accept it “before it is too late” if they see the Turkish side as co-owner of the island.
On Akinci's offer on the island's resources, Cavusoglu said if the Greek Cypriot side does not accept this proposal, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation will decisively continue its activities in areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriot side.
About a so-called proposal floated by the Greek Cypriot leader to the TRNC president, Cavusoglu said there was “nothing realistic” in the proposal and it was not acceptable for Turkey.
- Peace and stability
For his part, Akinci said they always wish island's natural resources contribute to peace, stability and cooperation in the region.
"We always highlight this, we made offers in this regard. We desired for natural gas as peace bridge, not a tension area. We proposed a joint committee in this regard," Akinci said, adding that the proposal has been on the table since 2011.
About the Greek Cypriot side's attitude on the proposal, he said they categorically rejected the proposal and offered their own proposal to TRNC which is “impossible to accept and far from doing something together.”
"Political equality is not a hollow concept. We consider that the effective participation of both parties to decisions is important. We want to remind that these were already part of past agreements and documents," he said.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has similar rights to the resources in the area.
From spring onwards when Ankara sent two drilling vessels -- the Fatih and the Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, exploration and research work has continued in defense of the rights of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources in the region.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.
The sixth generation ultra-deepwater drillship, Yavuz, also began operations in August at the Karpaz-1 well located in the Bay of Gazimagusa - also known as Famagusta, in the TRNC.
By Muhammed Ikbal Arslan in Lefkosa, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus