Cypriot FM tells ‘Post’ Nicosia in conflict with Turkey over exploration rights; J'lem interested in "cooperating in energy field," PM responds.Source: Jerusalem Post
With her country locked in a nasty tiff with Turkey over maritime gas exploration rights, Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis came to Israel Wednesday looking for signs of support on the matter from Jerusalem, and received it in the form of statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement following a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kozakou-Marcoullis saying among the issues discussed was “expanding the possibilities of cooperating in the energy field, since both countries have been blessed with natural gas deposits in their exclusive economic zones.”
Turkey has threatened Cyprus against going ahead with plans to begin drilling for offshore gas deposits, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatening earlier this month that Ankara would show the “necessary response” if Cyprus went ahead with the plans.
Turkey, which has occupied northern Cyprus since 1974, claims Cyprus does not have the right to exploit the island’s natural resources, and that it cannot ignore the Turkish- Cypriot rights to the resources.
Both the US and Russia have in recent days released statements supporting the Cypriot position, and Kozakou-Marcoullis told The Jerusalem Post in an interview, before meeting Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that she hoped for a “message going out from Israel regarding the principle regarding sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone.”
Lieberman, like Netanyahu, also put out a statement signaling support for Cyprus’s position, saying he and his Cypriot colleague praised the agreement reached by Israel and Cyprus in 2010 delineating their maritime boundaries and their respective exclusive economic zones, and saying that beginning work to extract the gas should be done quickly “for the benefit of both sides.”
In the Post interview, Kozakou- Marcoullis said Cyprus was planning exploratory drilling within the next two weeks, regardless of Turkey’s threats.
“We have international law on our side,” she said. “I think Turkey has to listen to the messages being sent by the international community regarding this issue.”
She said while Cyprus has to be concerned about “any kind of threats coming from Turkey, at the same time we are proceeding as scheduled and doing whatever we have to do regarding raising the issue with other countries.”