"THE TURKISH CYPRIOT SIDE WILL DO WHAT IS NESESSARY"
"SHOULD THE GREEK CYPRIOT SIDE NOT SUSPEND ITS NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION/PUMPING ACTIVITIES, THE TURKISH CYPROT SIDE WILL SIGN ITS OWN AGREEMENTS AND START EXPLORING WITHIN THE MARITIME AREAS AROUND THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS "
"MARKULLI'S ANALYSIS UNFOUNDED AND SUPRISING"
"THIS IS AN ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNITY"
"GREEK CYPRIOT SIDE'S MOVES ARE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE TALKS"
Lefkoşa, 18th August 11 (T.A.K): President Derviş Eroğlu's Special Representative Kudret Özersay has stressed that the Turkish Cypriot Side will do what is necessary should the Greek Cypriot Side start drilling for oil and natural gas.
Özersay said "Above all, it is possible for the Turkish Cypriot Side, in the context of the principle of reciprocity, to take similar steps of equal significance with those taken by the Greek Cypriot Side. The Turkish Cypriot Side will sign its own agreements and launch its own offshore exploration activities, should the Greek Cypriot Side fail to suspend its activities to explore and extract oil and natural gas off the southern coast of Cyprus "
Stressing that the Turkish Cypriot Side's stance on the issue is clear, Özersay said that efforts were being made to undermine the Turkish Cypriot Side's will - something, he added, the Turkish Cypriot Side will not allow. He said that it was possible that the Turkish Cypriot Side would reassess or reevaluate the options it had been postponing in view of the fact that the Cyprus negotiation process was continuing and because such options could make it harder to reach a solution to the Cyprus Problem.
"Everyone should know and understand that the Turkish Cypriot Side will take steps on the issue of oil and natural gas exploration as well as other issues it has refrained from taking, should the Greek Cypriot Side, despite the ongoing negotiations, be determined to take steps that will undermine the future of the island as well as its sovereignty" Özersay added.
The Special Representative added that everyone must understand and acknowledge that the Turkish Cypriot Side is an actor whose will must be taken into consideration.
Stating that the issue of natural gas and oil exploration was a matter concerning sovereignty and that the Greek Cypriot Side's stance on the matter conflicted with the spirit of the ongoing negotiation process, Özersay said "If the Greek Cypriot Side wants to avoid fostering this and similar crises experienced in the Cyprus negotiations in the past, then it should not act on the assumption that the Turkish Cypriot Side and Turkey will remain indifferent or unresponsive on the matter." There could be nothing more natural than to expect such a response.
The President's Special Representative answered the Cyprus Turkish Agency's questions concerning the latest statements by the Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister, Mrs. Erato Kazaku Markulli, and the Commissioner of the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Yorgos Iacovou, to the Greek Cypriot press on the issue of natural gas and oil reserves.
"THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS IS BEING IMPORTED INTO CYPRUS"
The President's Special Representative, Kudret Özersay, holder of a PhD degree in International Law, has warned that the latest developments on the issue of natural gas and oil exploration indicated that the "Middle East Crisis" was being imported to Cyprus. He said that the Cyprus Problem was being artificially transformed into a Middle East problem through the Greek Cypriot Side's exploration initiatives.
"The Greek Cypriot Side is knowingly and willingly moving on the wrong path" said Özersay, adding that similar mistakes had been made in the past. He said that the Cyprus Problem was artificially being transformed into a "European Union dispute" and added "the same thing happened when the Greek Cypriot Side was illegally accepted into the Union before a solution was reached. The mistake made in 2004 by the EU or the fact that EU officials became part of the Greek Cypriot Side's mistake resulted in the creation of an artificial conflict or disagreement within the EU. The status awarded to the Greek Cypriot Side by the EU and the consequent boost of confidence it received only made the negotiations process harder. Today, the Greek Cypriot Side's initiative to explore and exploit natural gas and oil reserves has once again led to the creation of an artificial crisis, a Middle East crisis. While the Cyprus Problem was an ethnically-based international conflict on an island located in the Eastern Mediterranean, with these steps of the Greek Cypriot side the problem has artificially been transformed into a "European problem" and a " Middle East problem", making the Cyprus Problem even more complicated than it already is. The current disputes between countries of the Middle East will be imported into or integrated with the Cyprus Problem. We will be adding a new dimension that will make the solution of the problem harder. Actually, everyone knows quite well that the unfortunate and saddening explosion that took place in South Cyprus not long ago is the result of Middle East-related disputes. Reports in the Greek Cypriot press that the containers which caused the explosion had links with Syria and Iran only confirm and prove the fact that dangerous elements of Middle East origin are being imported into the Cyprus conflict."
"ATTEMPTS TO DESTABILIZE CYPRUS ARE DANGEROUS"
President Derviş Eroğlu's Special Representative Kudret Özersay described efforts to destabilize Cyprus, a relatively stable island compared to other countries in the region, as dangerous and said that such attempts were worrying not only for the negotiation process but also for regional peace.
"While the United Nations Secretary General mentions steps to be taken towards building confidence, the Greek Cypriot Side's defiant persistence to go ahead with oil and gas exploration activities serves only to reduce confidence between the parties involved. As far as I am concerned, the Greek Cypriot Side's attitude on the matter is the last thing this negotiations process needs, if success is to be achieved. Unfortunately we see that those who need to draw lessons from the causes of imported instability from the Middle East, something from which a great number of people have suffered only recently, are failing to do so" Özersay said. "EFFORTS ARE BEING MADE TO UNDERMINE OUR WILL"
Özersay stressed that the modality of the ongoing negotiation process and the fact that the solution to be reached will be put to a vote in separate and simultaneous referenda showed that, for any state of affairs that will be created in Cyprus, the political will of the Turkish Cypriots was just as necessary as the political will of the Greek Cypriots. He said "The political will of the Turkish Cypriots is essential if a lasting "new state of affairs" is to be created. That is why there can be nothing more incorrect or wrong than the Greek Cypriot Side exercising its political will unilaterally on such a crucial issue which concerns not only the future of the island but also the very foundations of the permanent order that will be created. Just as the political will of the Turkish Cypriots had been completely ignored through agreements signed on exclusive economic zones with third countries, such moves served to place the future of the island under Greek Cypriot domination. Maritime areas were sovereign areas of states depending on their nature or, at least, were the international areas where the coastal states are entitled to exercise sovereign powers. "THESE ARE NOT JUST ORDINARY TREATIES. THIS IS A MATTER CONNECTED WITH FUTURE SOVEREIGNITY" Highlighting the fact that the treaties in relation to natural gas and oil are not just ordinary treaties, Özersay said that these were treaties that could create a permanent status. He said that the signing of such treaties despite the absence of the political will of Turkish Cypriots was totally unacceptable, and made the following warning:
"In international law, certain special rules are provided for such special kind of treaties. For example, border agreements, treaties concerning military bases, treaties concerning the transfer of sovereignty and other similar treaties. The agreements signed here are directly related to the issue of sovereignty, and may cause the creation of a permanent situation concerning the future of the island." He said that such attempts made in spite of the political will of the Turkish Cypriots were unacceptable. "On the one hand, we are conducting negotiations for determining a common future, and, on the other, the Greek Cypriot Side is trying to determine this future exclusively by itself. This issue is directly linked to the issue sovereignty, thus it would be completely wrong to approach and see the issue as a simple trade agreement implemented by Greek Cypriot officials. Sovereignty- related treaties undermine the rights and political will of the Turkish Cypriots and could create international undertakings concerning the island's natural wealth which belongs to both sides. In addition, these treaties are also contrary to the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources." "WE MAY NEED TO NEGOTIATE ISSUES RELATED TO SUCCESSION WITH THE GREEK CYPRIOT SIDE"
"If the Greek Cypriot Side tells us 'look you have declared the TRNC and you have no right here' and ' the TRNC exists', then it should openly say so, so that we know whether it accepts us or not. Even if the TRNC were recognized as a separate and independent state by the Greek Cypriot Side, it is a reality that we have not yet settled our accounts with the Greek Cypriot side. A possible settling of accounts with the Greek Cypriot Side will not only include issues related to the partnership in the past, international treaties, debts or archives but will also require an account of how similar wealth can be shared. This is why we must do our outmost to use this last opportunity in the negotiations process in the best way possible. Otherwise we will exhaust all means and will have to sit with the Greek Cypriots to settle all accounts. The reason we are not talking about this today is our commitment towards creating a new partnership. "AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE TALKS" The President's Special Representative argued that any rational person who examines the Greek Cypriot Side's signing of international treaties aimed at delineating maritime borders and the initiatives its has launched for the exploration of natural gas and oil off the coast of Cyprus could see that the moves are against the spirit of the Cyprus negotiations process.
"First you will promise to the UN Secretary General that you will do all you can to achieve sufficient progress by October and then you will follow your own path, over which all parties concerned have expressed concern and discomfort. More importantly, you will start drilling, although you know that it will provoke the other side. Anyone in our place would have the right to question our counterpart in the talks, the Greek Cypriot Side, on what it is doing, particularly at such a critical phase in the talks. We are asking this question to ourselves. I must say that the answers we come up with are, unfortunately, not very pleasant or encouraging. There is a serious problem concerning the existence of good will, an important requirement in the negotiations process. The Greek Cypriot Side's steps on the issue are not recent and have been continuing since 2003. That is why it is not possible to explain the issue simply as part of a deliberate attempt to divert the Greek Cypriot public's attention away from the domestic front to outside issues. There are systematic steps being taken here and using this dispute to heighten tensions at a critical stage of the talks is not a coincidence."
"THE ISSUE CONCERNS THE CYPRUS TURKS' OWN RIGHTS AND INTERESTS"
The President's Special Representative said that it would not be correct to approach the issue of natural gas and oil from the perspective of Turkey 's interests alone. He said that the issue concerned the rights and interests of the Cyprus Turks, independent of Turkey .
"It would be wrong to approach the issue of natural gas and oil from the perspective of Turkey 's interests alone. It is only natural that Turkey , a state with the longest coastline in the North of the Mediterranean , has a number of vested and legitimate rights stemming from international law. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, all relevant countries in the region including Turkey need to be included in the process of delineating maritime borders. The Cyprus Turks, independent of Turkey 's rights and interests, have their own rights and interests in the region. Whether you look at the issue from the perspective of Cyprus Turks who have an equal say on the future permanent status of the island, or you approach the issue through the TRNC's geographical location, or the fact that it has shores and territorial waters, or as equal partners of the 1960 Republic of Cyprus , the outcome does not change. We have rights and interests within maritime zones and natural resources surrounding us. Actually, I think that the Greek Cypriot Administration's general approach concerning the rights of the Cyprus Turks is quite consistent. The Greek Cypriot Administration adopts a similar stance concerning Cyprus Turkish properties in the South. The Greek Cypriot Side which says that it can use, develop, give or expropriate for public use Cyprus Turkish properties in the South as it desires, without paying a single cent of compensation, adopts a similar unlawful stance when it comes to the issue of oil and natural gas. Its stance concerning activities within the island's maritime borders is just another version of its unlawful stance towards Cyprus Turkish properties in the South. Such unilateral and one-sided actions are devoid of any legitimacy. Just as I said 4 years ago, it clear and essential that the rules of international law governing maritime zones need to take into perspective the extraordinary situation that exists in this geography: There is both a geographical situation concerning a semi-closed sea, as described in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and an ongoing dispute in the region concerning sovereignty, recognition and non-recognition. There aren't vast oceans or seas here. This is a place with anexceptional situation where special conditions prevail. We are talking about a semi-closed sea surrounded by a large number of coastal states."
MARKULLI'S ANALYSIS UNFOUNDED AND SURPRISING
Stating that the Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kazaku Markulli was issuing statements like " Turkey should first become party to UNCLOS before speaking" Özersay said that a large part of the convention's provisions were a reflection of customary international law. He said that it was uncertain as to what extent the Convention codifies customary international law.
"In other words countries like Turkey which are not signatories of UNCLOS do not have to sign the convention in order to make references to it or use it when making a point or defending a position. If we accept, for a moment, Mrs. Markulli's baseless analysis as correct, than states which are not signatories of UNCLOS would be deprived of the right to determine and delineate their maritime borders! This is preposterous. It is difficult to understand how Mrs. Markulli, who I have come to know from the Greek Cypriot Side's negotiating team on matters related to the property issue, can make such an analysis contrary to international law. If the Greek Cypriot Side claims to be a state and a party to the convention, then Mrs. Markulli needs to be informed correctly on the Convention's provisions."
THIS ISSUE HAD CREATED A CRISIS IN BÜRGENSTOCK
"On the other hand, claims by Greek Cypriot officials that Turkey has its hands tied and cannot do anything, is surprising. If this is meant to be a form of provocation, then I must say it is quite a futile attempt. However if they truly believe this and are sincere about the solution process, then I would like to remind them of the problems which emerged during the Bürgenstock negotiations in 2004 and invite them to think again. The economic exclusive zone agreement signed between Egypt and the Greek Cypriot Administration had stirred a crisis during the talks held on the Annan Plan in 2004 at the Swiss city of Bürgenstock . I was at the head of the committee in charge of going over the international treaties at the time. I would like to remind the Greek Cypriot Side that even though the agreement signed between Egypt and the Greek Cypriot Administration was not excluded in the list of international treaties which would be binding for the new partnership, a footnote had been added following hours of negotiating and discussion, stipulating that Turkey 's vested interests would not be affected.
The Greek Cypriot Administration would be deeply misled and mistaken to believe that Turkey and the Cyprus Turkish Side will remain unresponsive and a by-stander to any actual steps to be taken in the period ahead by the Greek Cypriot Side on the basis of such agreements. If the Greek Cypriot does not want to foster such crises experienced on numerous occasions in the past, then it should not act on the assumption that Turkey or the Cyprus Turkish Side will not do anything on the matter. The fact that our Greek Cypriot counterparts forget past experiences very quickly is costing both peoples a heavy price. I believe that it should not be so hard to see this and draw lessons from it.
"THE CONVERGENCES REACHED SHOULD NOT BE RENDERED MEANINGLESS"
Warning that the convergences reached in the Cyprus negotiations process should not be rendered meaningless, Özersay said that one of the few issues where convergence had been reached is that the country's natural wealth will be under the authority of the federal government. "One of the few issues on which we have reached convergence is that the country's natural wealth will be under the authority of the federal government, that is of course if the Greek Cypriot Side accepts the principle of residual powers." Public property will be under the responsibility and ownership of the Constituent State in which it is located. However the agreement reached is that any natural wealth or resources will not be under the control or authority of the Constituent States. Any natural resources or wealth will not belong to just one Constituent State. Moreover any maritime agreements will need to be ratified by a special majority by the federal legislature. In other words, any such agreement which does not have the approval or support of the two communities and the Constituent States will not be binding on a unified Cyprus .
You agree with us on this issue and then turn around and claim that you can sign agreements on your own which will undermine the sovereignty of a possible partnership. This is what we are against. I am curious to know what those who tell us to wait for a solution in order to remove the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, now think of the Greek Cypriot Side's actions. It is actually the Greek Cypriot Side who should be told to wait. That is if a positive outcome is truly desired from the negotiations process or if there is a common desire to avoid new tensions in the region.
"THE CYPRUS TURKISH SIDE WILL DO ALL IT CAN"
Stressing that the Cyprus Turkish Side will be doing what is necessary should the Greek Cypriot Side go ahead with exploration activities for oil and natural gas, President Derviş Eroğlu's Special Representative Kudret Özersay said that the Cyprus Turkish Side would take reciprocal steps of equal significance and value, should this happen.
He said that the Cyprus Turkish Side will sign its own international agreements for oil and gas exploration should the Greek Cypriot Administration not suspend its exploration and drilling activities.
"It would naïve for the Cyprus Turkish Side not to do anything or not to react under the current circumstances. Above everything else, it is possible for the Cyprus Turkish Side to take similar reciprocal steps of equal significance. The Cyprus Turkish Side will sign its own international agreements for oil and gas exploration should the Greek Cypriot Administration not suspend its exploration and drilling activities. No doubt, this will lead dispute as to where the maritime boundaries of these two States which do not recognize each other begin or end. We are not talking about an ordinary geography. Different rules on maritime boundaries apply when island-states are in question, especially if there is more than one State on that island. Things will also become more complicated once when we add the settling of issues remaining from 1960 or which have never been discussed before.
We may also have to reassess and re-evaluate elements which we have been postponing in the thought that it may hamper efforts to reach a solution. Everyone must know that we will take steps on matters, whether it is on the issue of oil or natural gas exploration or others that we have refrained from taking, if the Greek Cypriot Side is determined to continue taking steps aimed at undermining the sovereignty and future of the island in spite of the negotiations.