Turkish PM calls for energy deal with Greek Cypriots

Turkey and Greece agree that if they jointly utilize the natural gas resources around Cyprus, it will serve peace on the island, Turkish premier says

Turkish PM calls for energy deal with Greek Cypriots

World Bulletin/News Desk

Turkey and Greece agree that if they jointly utilize the natural gas resources around Cyprus, it will serve peace on the disputed island, Turkish premier said Friday.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave the remarks to the press after a meeting with his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras in Athens, where he is on a two-day visit.

Davutoglu said Samaras agreed that joint Turkish and Greek-Cypriots efforts to drill gas around Cyprus would serve as a peacemaker on the island.

"If the natural gas is drilled jointly, then it will be a peace bridge between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece," he said.

The two leaders also agreed that the natural gas resources off the coast of the Mediterranean island belonged to all people living on the island, and their joint use could contribute to a comprehensive settlement to the decades-long conflict, the premier said.

"Both sides have a strong will to enable resumption of Cyprus peace negotiations in a result-oriented way. At this stage, our aim is to eliminate the existing disagreements to resume peace talks," he added.

"We will continue with the bilateral talks ... we need to go deeper and find a solution. We don't want tension, neither in the Aegean nor in the eastern Mediterranean," Davutoglu said.

"Let's solve this issue, in order to exploit our energy resources and connect possible natural gas resources with Greece through Turkey," he said in translated comments.

Turkey and Greece are the guarantor countries for the disputed island of Cyprus where both Turkish and Greek-Cypriots are trying to find a way to settle their decades-long conflict.

Peace negotiations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek-Cypriot administration resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013.

However, they were suspended by the Greek-Cypriot side on Oct. 7 when Turkey sent a ship to monitor an oil-and-gas exploration mission off the coast of Cyprus.

Both Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side have called for a fair division of natural resources off the Cyprus coast.

Davutoglu pointed out Turkey's position that objected to any unilateral steps to solve the issue; Ankara maintains that any move to portray the Greek side as the sole ruling power on the island would not serve the peace process.

He stressed that Turkey wanted no side to create a unilateral, bilateral or trilateral line of sovereignty or dominance in the East Mediterranean.

"Greece assured us that they are not in pursuit of such a goal," he said.

Turkish premier reminded their previous consent with Samaras in Baku on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony of the South Caucasus pipeline in Azerbaijan.

"We already said in Baku that we believe the natural gas pipeline starting from the Caspian Sea and reaching out to the Adriatic Sea over Azerbaijan, Turkey and Greece will be a great peace bridge," he said.

Greek Cypriots say Turkey sent a research vessel to collect seismic data in disputed waters off the divided island of Cyprus where the Nicosia government was also exploring.

A chief Turkish Cypriot negotiator said last Tuesday that a peace settlement in Cyprus would not be possible unless Greek Cypriots cut a deal on natural gas exploration with the Turkish-backed breakaway state in the north of the island.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Friday that "trust" would help the two countries' economies to grow.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said, "The key to speeding up bilateral relations and easing Greek-Turkish relations is the Cyprus issue."

The Nicosia government has already granted exploration licences to several multinationals, including U.S. Noble Energy , Italy's ENI and France's Total.

Good neighbors

Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed earlier Friday a commitment to enhance bilateral ties.

The two leaders made the commitment when Davutoglu was received by Papoulias at the presidential hall during his two-day visit to Athens on the sidelines of the third Greece-Turkey High–Level Cooperation Council.

"Such meetings reinforce the principles of good neighborhood and rules of international law, which must govern our relations,” Papoulias said during the meeting, according to the Office of the Greek President.

He hailed the third council meeting and said it contributed to enhancing relations between the two countries.

“We are neighbors and we will remain neighbors, therefore, we must be good neighbors," he added.

Turkish premier agreed with Papoulias. “Fortunately, we are neighbors. There are but a few examples of neighbors with common cultural traits and good relations,” Davutoglu said.

“While everything can change, geographic location cannot change,” he said.

Davutoglu also repeated his invitation to the Greek president to visit Turkey.

Last Mod: 06 Aralık 2014, 12:24
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