UN urges resolution of gas dispute over Cyprus

Statement follows warning from Ankara over Cyprus's intention to begin offshore gas drilling; Greece threatens to block Turkey's EU accession.

By REUTERS
September 16, 2011 16:34
1 minute read.
Leviathan holds 453 billion cu.m. of gas [file]

Leviathan 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Albatross)

The United Nations on Friday called for a peaceful resolution to a growing dispute surrounding gas exploration off Cyprus with Turkey, saying any potential finds should be for the benefit of both communities on the ethnically-split island.

"The United Nations would appeal to all involved to resolve this matter in a peaceful manner," said Lisa Buttenheim, special representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who heads the UN peacekeeping mission on the island.

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Turkey said on Thursday it would sign a pact with Northern Cyprus setting out the maritime boundaries of the breakaway state if the Greek Cypriot republic on the divided island presses ahead with plans to launch offshore gas drilling.

Turkey, the only country to recognize a Turkish Cypriot state, has taken a direct role in an escalating row over hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, saying they belong not only to Greek Cypriots but also Turkish Cypriots.

The internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus has said it will pursue gas exploration and has warned it will block Turkey's EU-entry talks as long as Ankara challenges the island's rights to energy reserves.

"It has been agreed that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will conclude a continental shelf delimitation agreement should the Greek Cypriot Administration proceed with offshore drilling activities in the south of the Island," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.


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