The main opposition party in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) has said it will vote against an agreement with Turkey on the delineation of undersea boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, a step that would pave the way for Turkish hydrcarbon exploration in the region in response to Greek Cypriot drilling.
The surprise announcement from the Republican Turks Party (CTP) came after a meeting of the party assembly on Wednesday night. A statement released after the meeting said the agreement with Turkey would undermine efforts for reunification of Cyprus and denounced its conclusion without consultations with opposition parties as an act of “grave disrespect against the will of Parliament.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu signed an agreement marking out undersea boundaries in New York last month. The agreement paves the way for Turkish oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, which comes after Greek Cypriot authorities vowed to go ahead with planned exploration in the south of Cyprus despite protests from Turkey, which says it and the Turkish Cypriots also have rights in the region.
Turkey has said its navy ships will escort exploration ships if necessary, raising prospects for an armed conflict.
The KKTC government approved the agreement on Sept. 28 and sent it to Parliament for ratification. It is not immediately clear when the Turkish Cypriot Parliament will vote on the agreement. The ruling National Unity Party (UBP) has 26 seats in the 50-member Parliament, while the second-biggest party, CTP, controls 15 seats.
The CTP statement said the crisis over hydrocarbon exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean “consumes the energy that ought to be spent on finding a comprehensive resolution to the Cyprus dispute and destroys the motivation and good will necessary to maintain solution efforts.”
The statement accused President Eroğlu of overstepping his authorities and excluding the KKTC Parliament from the decision-making process ahead of signing the agreement. “The agreement does not seek to protect the rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots. What kind of negotiations have been carried out, and by whom and where, before this agreement was signed on our behalf?” it asked.
The statement also said the Greek Cypriot administration acted “irresponsibly” and that its action will harm the reunification process, but added that the Turkish side “made the same mistake” with the way it responded to the Greek Cypriot move.
06 October 2011, Thursday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,