Postpone Undersea Gas Drilling Operation - Eroglu
The government should postpone Noble Energy's start date for drilling for undersea gas reserves in Block 12, part of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), said Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu after yesterday's direct talks with President Demetris Christofias.
The Turkish-Cypriot political leadership is adamantly against oil and gas exploration before a solution to the Cyprus problem and backs Turkey's threats to send naval ships to the EEZ. In response to Christofias' decision to put the military on alert, Eroglu said it was "not a pretty behaviour when the talks are going on." He said that if the Greek-Cypriots do not put a hold on drilling, he will send his representative Kudret Ozersay to Ankara to discuss the problem. In the past, the Turkish-Cypriot political leadership has made statements to the effect that they will seek to explore for undersea reserves off the north shore of Cyprus.
Noble Energy is due to start drilling at the beginning of October and it is appears unlikely that the Turkish-Cypriot's demand will be met after repeated statements from the government that it is within its sovereign right to proceed with Noble Energy's contract. After an emergency meeting at the Presidential Palace, Christofias said that Noble Energy will proceed 'soon' towards its oil exploration project. The Republic of Cyprus does not recognise the 'TRNC's' claim on the island's natural resources, but the Turkish-Cypriot community will benefit from oil-and-gas exploitation in a united federal Cyprus, he said.
"In a future federal state, exploitation (of natural resources) would be the duty of the central government," said Christofias.
Meanwhile, reunification talks are proceeding rapidly compared to earlier this year. Yesterday the leaders met for five hours to discuss their views on citizenship, aliens, asylum and immigration rules in a reunified federal system. They are working intensively to reach a reunification plan by October that can be presented to UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon and then to the Cypriot people for approval - or rejection - in separate community referenda.
A new meeting is set for September 14th at 3.30pm.