Nicosia pledges to share proceeds with Turkish-speaking community

Cyprus said Thursday it was willing to share the benefits of any gas find with Turkish Cypriots before reaching a peace deal on the ethnically split island, in an apparent attempt to calm tensions with Turkey over Mediterranean energy reserves.

Speaking in New York, Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias said he wanted both the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities to benefit from any find.

?My message to Turkey and to the Turkish Cypriots is to find a solution as soon as possible, but as president, I guarantee that even before a solution… that if we have revenue, we will see in which way we can use the revenues for the benefit of the two communities. That must be very clear,? Christofias said, according to an official statement.

His comments marked a softening of the stance adopted by Cyprus?s Greek-Cypriot government, which represents the island internationally. Until now, authorities had said Turkish Cypriots would reap benefits from any gas discovery only after there was a deal on the island, split by war in 1974.

?If Turkey indeed wishes to see the Turkish-Cypriot community reap benefits from this gift of nature to Cyprus, it must convince Mr [Dervis] Eroglu to conclude an agreement,? Christofias said, referring to the Turkish-Cypriot leader.

Despite tensions, both sides have continued to attend peace talks under the auspices of the United Nations. In principle, they agree on uniting Cyprus as a federation.

As part of talks, the sides have already agreed that administering natural resources would be a federal issue, but have not resolved the proportion of revenue which would be allocated to each side, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. [Reuters]

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