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United States Reaffirms Support for Cyprus’ Right to Conduct Energy Explorations
2011-09-30 14:03:43

The U.S. State Department on Thursday reaffirmed U.S. support for Cyprus’ sovereign right to continue to explore for natural resources. Speaking at a daily press briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said, “The United States supports Cyprus’ right to explore for energy. Having a U.S. company involved in developing the energy resources of Cyprus is also positive.”

During the briefing, Toner also reiterated the U.S.’ support for the ongoing negotiations to reunify the island, saying the U.S. “continues to support strongly the Cypriot-led negotiation process, conducted under U.N. good offices, to reunify the island into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.”

Mr. Toner further pointed out that Washington “continue[s] to believe that the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement,” and that “we don’t believe that developing offshore energy resources need hinder those reunification talks.” In fact, when asked to confirm that the U.S. position is that the ongoing explorations do not hinder the U.N.-led reunification talks, he categorically did so saying “that's our position. ”

The U.S. spokesperson, invited to comment on the Turkish prime minister’s threats against Cyprus (“to invade Cyprus again”), said that “there’s a very clear path forward here. There’s a Cypriot-led negotiation process being conducted under the U.N. That’s the best way to resolve all of these issues.”

U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc.,which has the license to carry out explorations off the east Mediterranean island’s offshore territory, began explorations on Sept. 19 amid threats by Turkey to send warships to the area.

President Demetris Christofias has stressed that Cyprus will continue explorations for natural gas in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) **, despite the Turkish threats which are inadmissible and in violation of international law. At an event yesterday, President Christofias said that since the Republic of Cyprus began exploratory drilling, Turkey has intensified its provocations in an effort to prevent Cyprus from exercising its sovereign rights. “Turkey, with provocations and threats, violates the international law, which it is called upon to respect,” President Christofias said, adding that at the same time the U.N, the EU and the international community must demand that Turkey respects international law and that it stops its threats against the Republic of Cyprus which constitute a source of tension and danger in the region.

President Christofias described the linking of the Cyprus problem with the explorations in the EEZ as “excuses” on the part of the Turkish side. “The Republic of Cyprus does not participate in the negotiations. It is the two communities that participate, so there can be no issue from the Turkish side or from anybody else. There is no linking of the explorations for hydrocarbons with the ongoing process for the solution of the Cyprus problem,” he added. He further underlined that the Republic of Cyprus cannot remain hostage to the unwillingness of Turkey to cooperate for a solution and thus not exercise its sovereign rights, and reiterated that the sovereign rights of Cyprus are non-negotiable. “We will continue the explorations always acting strictly in the framework of the international law,” he stressed.

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