CNA - President Demetris Christofias has condemned Turkey's latest provocative moves with regard to Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone, saying Ankara has to shift its policies and pointing out that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will benefit from the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves, already found from exploratory drilling.
Speaking to CNA, the President called on Turkey to help find a political settlement in Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, pointing out that Ankara and Nicosia, due to their geographical proximity, are condemned to cooperate.
The President of the Republic warned Ankara that, if it wants to join the EU, it has to contribute "here and now" to a Cyprus solution and relinquish threats.
"We will not submit to Turkish threats," President Christofias told CNA on Monday, pointing out at the same time that Turkey would also benefit by the exploration of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone if it changes its stance and contributes to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Invited by CNA to comment on the announcement by Turkey that it grants permits for hydrocarbons studies and drilling in areas expanding from the Greek island of Rhodes to the south west of Cyprus, namely plots 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 delineated by the Republic of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Christofias stressed that "we shall not bow to Turkey's threats".
"I strongly denounce the unacceptable Turkish actions that aim to raise obstacles in the way of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit its Exclusive Economic Zone," he said.
"Turkey is a country that acts in an odd manner. While it knows that we will not submit to its threats and I stress that we shall not it appears not to understand its own interest," President Christofias said.
Elaborating on the issue, he recalled a statement he made addressing the most august forum, the UN General Assembly, that Turkish Cypriots have nothing to lose by the exploitation of hydrocarbons by the Republic of Cyprus.
"Turkish Cypriots will gain and Turkey will not lose," he pointed out and added that if Turkey respects the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, if it changes its stance and helps to achieve a solution of the Cyprus problem based on the principles and values of the EU which it aspires to join, it too will benefit.
Should a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem be reached, Cyprus will naturally cooperate with Greece and Turkey as well as with Israel, Lebanon and Egypt and all the countries it shares sea borders with, he noted.
"I want to make it clear that after a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem is achieved - providing for the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops and illegal settlers and when Turkey ends its efforts to control and hold Cyprus a hostage - Cyprus and Turkey are condemned to cooperate," President Christofias stressed.
The President also said that "we can change neither Turkey's nor Cyprus' geographical location. Therefore, Turkey must understand that if it wants to be a modern state as its leadership claims and not the policeman of the area, it ought to help here and now resolve the Cyprus problem and end threats and adventurism," he added.
Asked whether the Republic of Cyprus has made any representations against Turkish actions regarding drilling in Cyprus' and Greece's EEZ, President Christofias said that oral representations have already been made and written demarches will follow to the UN Security Council, the European Council President, the EU Commission and the President of the European Parliament.
Replying to a question as to the reaction of the European and international community to the representations, President Christofias said that they all continuously reiterate that they respect and defend the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus on the basis of international law and the Law of the Sea Convention.
This, he concluded, is abundantly clear and it will be reaffirmed through the written representations.
In December 2011, President Christofias announced that the results of the exploratory drilling in Cyprus` block 12 were positive, describing the discovery of hydrocarbons as historic for the island.
US company Noble Energy, which carried out the drilling, discovered 310 feet of net natural gas pay. The drilling reached a depth of 19,225 feet in water depth of about 5,540 feet.
The initial data that emerged from the exploratory drilling and the evaluation checks carried out indicate the existence of a natural gas reservoir ranging from 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) with a gross mean of 7 tcf.
Cyprus has also launched a second licensing round for the 12 remaining blocks in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
In response to Cypriot exploration activities, Ankara has deployed in the past warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.
The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey's moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it. Cyprus has also protested to the UN and the EU illegal drilling for hydrocarbons which the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) began on Thursday in the occupied area of Famagusta in the framework of an illegal "bilateral agreement" Turkey has signed with the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the occupied areas.
Turkey, a candidate country for EU accession, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004.