US Ambassador stresses Cyprus’ sovereign right to oil exploitation
Nicosia, Mar 5 - The Republic of Cyprus is a sovereign country and has the right to conclude agreements such as the ones regarding the exploitation of natural gas or oil reserves in its exclusive economic zone, US Ambassador to Nicosia Ronald Schlicher told reporters after a meeting with Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias.
Responding to Turkey’s protests on Cyprus' right to exploit possible hydrocarbon reserves in its exclusive economic zone, he also said: “It is clear that the Republic of Cyprus is the sovereign authority, they have the right to conclude agreements such as the one concluded and anyone who challenges that right should do so finding legal peaceful ways to approach the issue.”
Cyprus has signed agreements for the delimitation of its Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Lebanon. Turkey has reacted with threats as regards the government’s intentions for exploration and exploitation of possible oil deposits or natural gas in the sea area off the island.
Furthermore, the US Ambassador noted that “discussion on this issue by all parties concerned should be in the spirit of how can the possibility of this new national wealth be used in a way that is going to facilitate the reunification of the island and not deepen the divisions on the island”.
He then referred to the July 8th 2006 agreement aiming at a Cyprus settlement and said that his country would like to see the promotion of the agreement’s implementation.
“One of the most important things we talked about was our mutual desire that the UN process created by the July agreement starts immediately, as soon as possible, to produce progress in the technical committees and working groups that will lead to a situation where we can resume the substantive negotiations on reunifying the island”, he said.
Mr. Christofias said he informed Mr. Schlicher on the positions of the Greek Cypriot side as well as his party’s positions regarding the rapprochement between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots and the common efforts with the Turkish Cypriot Republican Turkish Party “to reach a common language on various aspects of the Cyprus problem”.
On July 8th 2006, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of former UN Undersecretary General for political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.