EU’s sanction threat appears unlikely to deter Turkey from drilling near Cyprus’ coasts, however Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci conveyed a proposal to Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades calling for a cooperation in hydrocarbon exploration in the region.
The Turkish Cypriot suggestion, conveyed through a UN official, proposes a committee made up of an equal number of members from both communities to work together in drilling activities under the observation of the UN and EU.
Turkey’s foreign ministry on Saturday said it would fully back Mr Akinci’s proposal were it to be implemented, adding that it would mark a “new era of cooperation between the two sides.”
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Mr Akinci’s proposal comes at a time when the EU 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 EU member states. Amid criticism from the EU, Egypt, Russia and the United States, Turkish Foreign Minister said his country would step up its driling activities if the EU moves ahead with sanctions.
This is not the first time that the authority of the Turkish-invaded occupied part of the island has called for the creation of a joint committee in an effort to manage future proceeds from gas explorations. The Cypriot government has said that energy discussions should be part of overarching reunification talks, adding that gas proceeds would be shared equitably once a peace deal is signed.