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FACTDROP: UN urges resolution of gas dispute


UN urges resolution of gas dispute

Πηγή: defencegreece
September 17, 2011

THE UNITED Nations yesterday appealed to all sides to tone down the rhetoric over oil and gas exploration and focus on the positives that a Cyprus solution could bring to the island and region.

Speaking after talks between the two leaders yesterday, UN special representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim said: “It should be understood that natural resources, if they are discovered, would be for the benefit of all Cypriots – Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – under the framework of a federal united Cyprus.”

Buttenheim highlighted that the issue was not directly related to the negotiations and had not been discussed. She added: “The United Nations would appeal to all involved to resolve this matter in a peaceful manner and look beyond the issues to the potential benefits that a united Cyprus can bring to Cypriots and to the region.”

Recent moves by Cyprus and Israel to explore for and extract oil and gas in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) have turned the heat up a notch in the eastern Mediterranean, with Lebanon voicing objection to the delineation of Israel’s EEZ and Turkey threatening to deploy warships to the area to prevent drilling. Tensions over energy have predictably spread to Greece which now has to deal with Turkey’s announcement that it will explore for oil and gas in waters disputed between the two countries. Turkey, like Cyprus in 2008, has chartered a Norwegian ship to carry out a geophysical survey of the region around the Greek island of Kastelorizo.

Regarding the Turkish warnings, Greece has suggested an attack on Cyprus would be seen as an attack on Greece while Israel has said very little, allowing Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan space to vent anger over its refusal to apologise for killing nine Turkish activists in a Gaza-bound flotilla last year.

Meanwhile, Turkey announced on Thursday that it was ready to sign a pact with the breakaway state in the north for oil and gas exploration in waters between Turkey and northern Cyprus.

Turkish Cypriot paper Kibris reported yesterday that the pact was the first step taken by Turkey to prevent drilling. Citing a “reliable source”, it noted that further down the line, Turkish warships were prepared to open fire to stop Cyprus exploring for oil and gas.

President Demetris Christofias yesterday chaired an informal meeting of parliamentary party leaders, briefing them on the government’s latest steps following Turkish threats against Cyprus over plans to drill in Block 12 in its southern EEZ.

Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said last night there was a “useful exchange of views” at the meeting.

“Everybody’s concern is to shield through political and diplomatic actions the Cyprus Republic’s sovereign right to explore and exploit its natural wealth, whether this is located under the seabed or under the sea,” he added.

Asked whether the conditions have been created for Cyprus to do so, he replied: “I think everyone has seen the positive responses made by significant countries and from the EU in relation to the exercise of Cyprus’ sovereign right to carry on with explorations. I think this sends a strong message concerning both the protection of this right as well as Turkey’s attitude.

In a rare display of unity, opposition DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades said there was a “genuine and productive” discussion on the Turkish threats. Regardless of differences on other issues, nobody doubted that unity was needed to “shield” Cyprus’ efforts to continue with explorations, he added.

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou called on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community to “collaborate to solve the Cyprus problem based on the right foundations,” allowing both communities to enjoy the benefits of the country’s natural wealth.

“That is the solution to the problems and not other actions,” he said.

Cypriot Defence Minister Demetris Eliades yesterday discussed the latest developments in the region with his Greek counterpart Panos Beglitis in Athens.

Speaking after a long meeting, Eliades said: “We remain committed to international law, with responsibility and composure.”

The Greek Minister expressed his country’s readiness on all fronts “to safeguard the national interests of Hellenism and the national defense of Greece and Cyprus”.

Beglitis called on Turkey to show the necessary common sense and realism and follow the realities shaped by international law in the region. He added that threats from the Turkish leadership were leading to Turkey’s isolation.

DISY number two Averof Neophytou yesterday called on Eliades to go to Israel after his visit to Greece to meet his Israeli counterpart and propose military cooperation between the two countries.

“He should immediately put the Andreas Papandreou air base and Evangelos Florakis naval base at Israel’s disposal.”

Houston-based Noble Energy, which has a concession to explore for hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ offshore Aphrodite field, is expected to begin exploratory drilling on Monday. Noble’s Homer Ferrington rig arrived in Block 12 on Thursday, under close surveillance from Turkish warships and airplanes.

Preparations were underway yesterday at Limassol port where a Bell 412 helicopter made its first landing on a helipad at the port.

The chopper will be used to transport personnel to and from Noble’s Homer rig stationed in Aphrodite.

Christina Christofidou, in charge of the helipad, said preparations were in their final stages “to soon welcome passengers, company personnel, who work on the rig in Block 12”.

The Bell helicopter is expected to transport around 30 people to and from the rig daily, making around nine to ten routes a week.

The first test run to the rig will be conducted today.

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