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Cyprus says no talks until Turkey cancels plans for gas exploration off island’s shores

October 16, 2014, 15:18 UTC+3 NICOSIA

Turkey is planning to carry out seismic survey in the Mediterranean for natural gas field exploration from October 20 to December 30

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Barbaros Frigade in the Mediterranean sea

Barbaros Frigade in the Mediterranean sea

© AP Photo/Murad Sezer

NICOSIA, October 16. /TASS/. Turkey’s move to cancel plans for gas exploration in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus is the only condition to resume peace talks aimed at reuniting the divided island, the government spokesman of the Republic of Cyprus said in an interview with TASS on Thursday.

In early October, Turkey released the so-called navigation telex (NAVTEX) note saying that the Barbaros research vessel would carry out seismic survey in the Mediterranean for natural gas field exploration from October 20 to December 30.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said Turkey’s actions are a grave violation of the republic’s sovereign rights and announced a decision to suspend the talks.

“It was not an easy decision, but it was the only available option for us because it is not possible to discuss and find a solution towards the Cyprus problem under threats and blackmailing from Turkey,” spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told TASS.

The spokesman reminded that Turkey’s NAVTEX note was issued only a few days ahead of a new phase of negotiations scheduled for October 9 in order to “bridge the gaps between the two sides.”

“We had no other option than to suspend negotiation in the process,” he said.

Answering a question when the talks will resume, Christodoulides said: “In order for us to decide to go back to negotiation we need Turkey to cancel its NAVTEX .We are working towards this direction and we hope as soon as possible Turkey would cancel its NAVTEX and it would be possible for us to go back to the negotiation.”

In comments to the reaction of the world powers, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and the president of the European Council, he said: “We are happy with the public statements until now. There are also underway a number of initiatives, which are not public, from a number of friends that they are willing and have power to do so and taking Turkey to cancel NAVTEX.”

“We are expecting on how things will develop to have stronger statements from the international community,” he said.

At present, Italy’s ENI is making exploratory drilling for natural gas in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in compliance with the concession agreement with the Cypriot government. But Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and ignores the existing maritime borders in the East Mediterranean.

The US Noble Energy discovered substantial natural gas deposits on the shelf of Cyprus in 2011. The Cypriot government signed an agreement on the exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources with the ENI consortium and KOGAS, as well as with France’s Total.

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