There has never been a link between the issue of hydrocarbons in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus and the process to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem, says Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis.
In an interview published in the Greek newspaper “Ta Nea” on Saturday, Lakkotrypis notes that the Republic of Cyprus plans and implements its energy designs in accordance with international law and the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, as all democratic and modern states do.
Replying to Turkish allegations that Ankara’s actions aim at protecting the interests of Turkish Cypriots, Lakkotrypis says these are refuted by Turkey’s illegal claims in the Eastern Mediterranean themselves. “How is it possible to safeguard the interests of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, when Turkey, through its own arbitrary interpretation of international law, limits Cyprus to 31% of its existing EEZ?” the Minister asks.
At the same time, Lakkotrypis says that the Cyprus government legislated the National Fund for Hydrocarbons, in order to secure that all its legal citizens will benefit from the wealth that lies bellow water in the country’s EEZ. This legislation provides that income from relevant activities will be invested for the benefit of all Cypriot people and in particular, for the future generations, he adds.
The Minister also reminds that the Republic of Cyprus has repeatedly called on Turkey to negotiate with the Republic of Cyprus to delineate their respective EEZs.
In his interview, Lakkotrypis points to the latest decisions of the Cyprus government to licence EEZ block 7 to the Total-Eni joint venture, while allowing Total to enter all blocks licensed to Eni so far. According to the Minister, these moves prove in practice that the Republic of Cyprus pursues seamlessly its energy designs, despite Turkey’s threats and violations.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey announced its intention to start drilling off Cyprus and send on May 4 the Turkish drill ship “Fatih”, which remains anchored 36 nautical miles west of Akamas peninsula, in an area that falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus. A second Turkish drill ship, “Yavuz”, arrived off the island’s north-eastern coast on July 8.
In response, EU Foreign Ministers endorsed, on July 15, measures concerning Turkey’s illegal drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. In accordance with the June 20, 2019, European Council conclusions, Foreign Ministers also invited the High Representative and the European Commission to continue working on options for targeted measures in light of Turkey’s continued drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
(Cyprus News Agency)