Last word: Mehmet Ali Talat,
How will Greek Cypriot hydrocarbon exploration affect the peace process?
The peace process has already been negatively affected. During my term as president, I often told Greek leader Dimitris Christofias that such an endeavor would have serious and dangerous repercussions.
Why did the Greek Cypriots decide to make such an
The explosion in July in southern Cyprus at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base, in which 13 people died, seriously shook the legitimacy of the Greek [Cypriot] government and leadership. There was already an economic crisis. The people were outraged. In an attempt to overcome this state of political crisis the administration accelerated the drilling project.
But weren’t there earlier attempts?
They have been contemplating this project for quite some time. The project has remained fresh and alive since 2004. Most recently former Greek [Cypriot] leader Tassos Papadopoulos brought it up.
Why has the Turkish side remained silent so far?
Because we have seen the [Cypriot] Greeks as a separate state for years, we have not done anything with regards to common assets and properties in the southern part [of the island]. Now we argue that the Turkish Cypriots are also entitled to a share in the wealth and assets in the seas and waters of the South.
Could Turkey’s response stop the Greek Cypriots?
Turkey’s stance and response is pretty clear. It is basically says: “If necessary, we will even seek recourse in military measures to address the situation.” I am afraid that things are moving toward that point. It is not possible to stop the [Cypriot] Greeks without resorting to military means.
Does the new administration remain subscribed to your vision of being ‘one step ahead’?
It is not possible to argue that they do. There is even a slight tendency toward an approach that irresolution is resolution. President Derviş Eroğlu is not in favor of a solution. During his premiership he has played an obstructive role in the negotiations.
Did Ankara’s active stance on resolution change?
It is not fair to expect active involvement from Ankara. Ankara takes action based on the information and messages delivered by the [KKTC] administration. What can it do if it does not receive motivating response and feedback from Nicosia? Now there is a negative and unconstructive climate in Ankara.
Who would be hurt if the UN stops the process?
Generally the [Cypriot] Turks would be the losing party. Failing to make a deal would not earn us anything. If the UN secretary-general says: “The Turks have done their best. The Greeks do not approach resolution positively,” we will be the winning party. However, we are not currently pursuing a policy likely to make the secretary-general say this.
What do you think the likelihood of a UN sponsored
international conference is?
I do not think such an international conference is likely to be held. Even if it is, I would not expect the parties to reach a solution, because there is not even one matter on which the parties have agreed so far. On what terms did they agree to allow an international conference to be held? Besides, Eroğlu’s approach with respect to holding an international conference is not consistent with [that of] the UN.
Former President of the Turkish Republic of
Northern Cyprus (KKTC) Mehmet Ali Talat discusses the implications of the unilateral decision by the Greek Cypriots to start seafloor hydrocarbon exploration in