Last word: Mehmet Ali Talat,

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - By Me­sut Çe­vikalp

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

the Mediter­ranean.

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