Turkish Cypriots protest to U.N. over Greek Cypriot oil search

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Turkish Cypriots protest to U.N. over Greek Cypriot oil search
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Aralık 04, 2008 17:08

Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has sent a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon protesting at Greek Cypriot oil search missions in the Mediterranean Sea, AFP reported on Thursday. (UPDATED)

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The letter is the latest episode in a spat involving that has cast a shadow over U.N.-sponsored peace talks between Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.


"The Greek Cypriot side’s unilateral activities regarding the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas ... before a comprehensive settlement prejudge and violate" the rights of Turkish Cypriots, Talat said in the Nov. 26 letter, obtained by AFP.


The ongoing talks to end the island's 44-year division include the issue of maritime jurisdiction, Talat said, denouncing the Greek Cypriot exploration missions as "chronic attempts to settle the issue outside the negotiation table and to defame Turkey".

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However, he underlined that despite the row, the Turkish Cypriots would pursue the peace talks in good faith.



The Greek Cypriots have sent their own protests to Ban, complaining of "provocation" by Turkish naval vessels attempting to impede oil exploration off its southern coast.


Nicosia has said that there were four such incidents in November.


Turkey responded by saying the ships, on two previously known occasions, were within its territorial waters.


Christofias warned on Wednesday that the dispute could have a negative impact on the negotiations.


"I find myself in the unpleasant position of expressing my dismay over the continuation of such aggressive actions," said Christofias’s complaint to UN chief Ban Ki-moon dated Nov. 25.

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"The continuation of these incidents, I am sad to observe, unavoidably impacts negatively on our efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the Cyprus problem," he added.


Cyprus has been divided since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves.


Christofias and Talat in September opened negotiations in a U.N.-brokered bid to reunify the island but the initiative has made little tangible progress.



Syria promised Thursday to cooperate with Greek Cypriots in offshore oil-and-gas exploration, despite objections by Turkey.


"The area is promising," Syria’s oil minister, Sufian Al-Alao, said after talks with Greek Cypriot officials. "We hope to find good reserves from oil and gas in the Mediterranean," he was quoted by AP as saying.

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Greek Cypriot Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides said the island nation will soon sign an agreement with Syria to mark the undersea oil exploration boundaries.


Greek Cypriots have signed similar gas and oil exploration deals with Egypt and Lebanon, sparking Turkish protests that the deals damage the rights of Turkish Cypriots.


Turkey objects to the Greek Cypriots' offshore oil search, arguing it has rights in the area and that Turkish Cypriots should also have a say.




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