US supports revenue-sharing agreement in Cyprus for natural gas

The United States on Wednesday said it wanted to see Cyprus’ resources shared between the two communities living on the island.

Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the US State Department, said the US is interested in “revenue-sharing” as proposed by the UN.

“We are interested in this proposal for UN mediation of revenue-sharing. Overall, though, we would like to see a de-escalation of rhetoric and tension so that the UN process can move forward in a good environment,” Nuland told a daily press briefing in regards to a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu.

Nuland said the US continued to support the UN-led mediation on Cyprus and it discouraged any rhetoric or action that could negatively affect a peaceful settlement.

“I would note that there has recently been a request for the UN to engage in some sort of mediation on a revenue-sharing agreement for natural gas developed off of Cyprus, and we understand that the UN is considering that request, and we would consider that it would be quite constructive if the two communities could begin to work on deescalating tensions in a way similar to that,” Nuland said.

The spokesperson said the US would support some sort of mediation, but its fundamental issue was that there is a need for resolving the long-standing Cyprus issue under the auspices of the UN.

Responding to a question on if there was a difference between the perspectives of the US and the EU on oil exploration initiatives, Nuland said: “I think if there is a dispute reconciliation resolution mechanism that could be agreed on by all concerned parties that would ensure that the communities were able to share the resources, then that would be something that we would be supportive of. But again, we’re pleased to see that people are talking about resolving this dispute peacefully, de-escalating the rhetoric, and more generally, putting our energy into supporting the UN process for Cyprus’ reconciliation.”

On Sept. 21, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Derviş Eroğlu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) signed an agreement in New York on the delineation of the continental shelf between the two countries in the east Mediterranean.

The deal gives Turkey the green light to search for oil and gas in Turkish Cypriot waters. The agreement follows a Greek Cypriot move to start offshore drilling for natural gas and oil in the southeast of the eastern Mediterranean island.

On Sept. 22, the KKTC Council of Ministers gave an exploration license to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to explore for oil and natural gas in the sea around Cyprus.

President Eroğlu met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Sept. 24, and proposed to suspend oil and natural gas exploration until a comprehensive solution was found to the Cyprus question or, if the Greek Cypriot administration insisted on oil exploration, a committee to be set up by the two sides on the island to decide how to share any riches found. However, because the Greek Cypriot side failed to give a positive response to that offer, TPAO, using the Piri Reis vessel, began geophysical research and seismic data collection studies on behalf of the KKTC on Sept. 26.

In 2010, the Greek Cypriot administration and Israel signed an accord demarcating their maritime borders to facilitate a search for mineral deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek Cypriot side has signed a deal with US-based Noble Energy to start drilling in a 324,000-hectare economic zone near Israeli waters.


29 September 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL