Any effort by Cyprus to extract and sell gas while disregarding claims of Turkey and the island’s Turkish community is “not only unfair but also impossible,” Turkey’s finance minister said on Thursday.
“These natural resources should be used for the benefit of both communities,” Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said in response to questions at a conference in Istanbul. The easiest route for Cyprus to bring natural resources to international markets would be through Turkey, he said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the breakaway state in the north and has objected to Cyprus’s search for gas around the island on the grounds that Turkish Cypriots should share in any benefits.
Greek Cypriots in 2004 rejected a plan backed by Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, to unite the island. The Turks voted in favor. The plan should be put back on the table as Cyprus restructures its economy in exchange for a 10 billion-euro rescue program, Simsek said.
“We’d like our neighbors to be stable, strong and prosperous,” he said. “The best help we can give to South Cyprus would be a solution to the Cyprus problem in line with the UN solution in 2004.” [Bloomberg]