In Energy Feud, Turkish-Cypriots Warn of Two-State Separation

FILE - From left, Italian ambassador in Cyprus Andrea Cvallari, Israel's Energy minister Yuval Steinitz, Greece's Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and Cyprus' energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis signature their agreement after their talks at "Filoxenia" conference center in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Collapsed unity talks on Cyprus won’t be revived and the island faces the likelihood of permanent partition into two separate states unless revenues are shared if oil and gas is discovered, the Turkish-Cypriot side warned.

The legitimate Cypriot government, a member of the European Union, has licensed international companies to look for oil and gas in its waters but Turkey is sending in an energy research vessel to also look and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country wants a split if there’s success.

Talks between the two sides fell apart in July at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades refused to accept Turkey’s insistence on keeping an army on the northern third it has occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and the right to militarily intervene.
He and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had been talking on and off for nearly two years with soaring optimism in much of the foreign media that a deal was at hand when the two sides actually were at loggerheads over critical issues before the collapse of negotiations.

The prospect of energy finds off the island had propelled much of the hopes for a solution after 43 years but the self-proclaimed Turkish-Cypriot foreign ministry said the drilling by Cyprus ignored the rights of Turkish Cypriots and showed they considered themselves the island’s only legitimate owner, the Cyprus Mail said.

“We want to stress that, as joint owner of the island, we have legitimate and equal rights in the natural resources of the island,” the statement read even if the finds occurred in the sovereign waters of the legitimate government.

Only Turkey recognizes its own declared Republic in the occupied land and refuses to recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes at the same time Ankara harbors hopes of getting into the EU although more than a decade of talks has gone nowhere.

The Turkish-Cypriot side claimed it was the Cypriot government that was intransigent and inflexible and that,  the “option of negotiating a two-state solution could arise,” as a result’.

It added that the only solution for now to resume talks for unification would be to “freeze hydrocarbon activities around the island,” or to proceed with exploration through a mutual agreement.

“If this approach is not taken, the Turkish Cypriot side, alongside motherland and guarantor Turkey, will take all necessary measures to secure our rights and interests,” a statement read.