Cyprus won’t let Turkey sink its energy search

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Cyprus’ energy exploration strategy will go ahead as planned despite Turkey determined to block such moves, President Nicos Anastasiades said.

He argued that bowing to Turkey’s gunboat diplomacy would be tantamount to the Republic surrendering its sovereign rights.

“Just because Turkey does not recognise the Cyprus Republic, we are not going to give up our state sovereignty so that the (Cyprus) talks can resume,” said Anastasiades.

Turkey argues that for any progress to be achieved in resuming stalled UN-backed peace process, Cyprus has to put its energy plans on ice.

But Nicosia says that setting such preconditions for talks to restart is a no go and shows a lack of good faith on behalf of Ankara.

“Challenging sovereign rights or setting preconditions such as ‘I violate international law and in return, you must give up your sovereign rights so that we can talk’…that doesn’t demonstrate either goodwill or good faith,” said Anastasiades

He said goodwill dictates that dialogue is fostered without any preconditions, while a settlement would ensure all Cypriots benefited from energy wealth.

The President added that there needs to be goodwill and determination for a solution which will also lead to benefits in the energy sector.

No movement on the Cyprus problem is expected until after Turkish Cypriot elections in April.

Last week, US Assistant Secretary of State Francis Fannon urged against “provocative actions” that undermine regional stability.

He also voiced Washington’s support for Cyprus’ right to develop its energy resources and for proceeds to be shared between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots under a peace accord.

Turkey’s foreign ministry says the country won’t stop its hydrocarbon search off Cyprus until either all drilling ceases or Turkish Cypriots jointly manage such activity.

Brussels has approved sanctions against Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in Cyprus waters.