The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said on Saturday that all parties on the island would benefit from peace and stability.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, Mustafa Akinci said international actors, the UN and UN security council, EU and guarantor countries of Turkey, Greece and the U.K. had an important role and responsibility in establishing peace.
"I try to show the positive outcomes of the possible solutions. I always say that peace will be beneficial for everyone. Otherwise, the tension will climb in the Eastern Mediterranean as we see today," Akinci said.
"What will the Greeks gain if the mutual understanding is achieved? The rich resources thousands of meters below the sea can come out much more easily. Maybe, when they understand that Turkey and Turkish Cypriots are indeed players in this equation, these resources can reach international markets faster,” he added.
Akinci said, the TRNC had been calling for the formation of a joint committee to discuss the issue surrounding the island’s natural resources.
"Although the Greek side accepts the fact that Turkish Cypriots have the same rights on those resources in theory, they neglect this when it comes to practice. They behave as if they are living on the island alone," he added.
"If we cannot reach a consensus on the establishment of a committee, then there is only one way for us. Turkey, has its claims on the continental shelf. The Greek side also makes its own claims. We, as the TRNC, have rights. If you're doing seismic research, so will we. If you're digging, we will too,” Akinci said.
Akinci added that the Greek side continued to dismiss the TRNC until it took action and began drilling activities.
He underlined that, if newly-elected Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis introduced a new approach to Turkish-Greek relations and the Cyprus issue, and aimed to facilitate development of both nations side by side in cooperation, this would be greatly beneficial for both peoples.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
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.
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.
Athens and Greek Cyprus have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
Reporting by Muhammet Ikbal Arslan in Lefkosa
Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic