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FACTDROP: Israel’s Peres vows cooperation with Greek Cyprus in gas drilling


Israel’s Peres vows cooperation with Greek Cyprus in gas drilling

Πηγή: Todays Zaman
Nov 3 2011

Israeli President Shimon Peres had talks with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias during a key visit to the island on Thursday, discussing gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean, a discovery that has sparked a crisis between Turkey and Greek Cyprus.

The Israeli president said offshore gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean should not cause tension with Turkey, adding that proceeds from new gas discoveries will go toward improving people’s lives, not be used as political leverage.

“We are going to use the gas the way peaceful and democratic people should use it,” Peres was quoted as saying in the Greek Cypriot media. “We are not going to waste it, we are not going to play with it, we are not going to use it for the wrong purposes,” he said.

Turkey opposes exploratory drilling being conducted by US company Noble Energy off Cyprus’ south coast, saying it ignores the rights of Turkish Cypriots. Ankara has sent warships to escort a research vessel looking for gas deposits in the area, raising the possibility of a naval confrontation.

Israel, which also conducts drilling off its coast, has strained relations with Turkey as well. Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended military agreements after a UN panel, investigating a deadly May 31, 2010, raid on an international aid flotilla headed for Gaza, said in its report that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was legal.

Peres said Israel will cooperate with Greek Cyprus, but said this was not directed against anyone.

“We shall cooperate according to international law,” he said. “Our discoveries are not against anyone; our discoveries are for the people.”

Peres said, “We look upon gas not as a power but as an occasion to better the life of the people,” adding, “We shall do it peacefully.”

Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency said the Greek Cypriot media presented Peres’ remarks as a “challenge against Turkey” when he said Greek Cyprus and Israel had the right to use natural gas reserves in their own exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean the way they wish. “Israel does not threaten anyone nor does it accept threats from others,” he was quoted as saying. Christofias, for his part, reiterated criticism of Turkey’s opposition to Greek Cypriot gas drilling. “Turkey’s reaction is unacceptable and against international law,” he said after talks with Peres.

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