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PLANS to start drilling of Cyprus’ southern coast by October are “in full compliance with international law”, Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis told the Mail yesterday.

The minister was responding to a statement by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) earlier yesterday that Cyprus’ plans to drill for natural gas and oil “violate international law and go against efforts to solve the Cyprus problem”.

“This is not the first time that we hear this kind of statements from Turkey,” Marcoullis said.

Cyprus has signed a production-sharing contract with Houston-based Noble Energy which will be looking for hydrocarbons in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), known as Block 12.

Drilling in Block 12 will reveal the extent of the island’s resource potential.

In the MFA statement, Turkey called on the international community “to act responsibly and not encourage the Greek Cypriot community’s actions,” the Cyprus News Agency reported.

“International law provides for the delineation of EEZs to be done among the interested parties, bearing in mind the rights and interests of all sides,” the statement said arguing that “the Greek Cypriot side has no right to act or sign agreements about natural sources which belong to the whole of the island.”

The statement said that the Republic’s actions are affecting the Turkish Cypriots’ rights, who are one of the founding peoples of Cyprus.

“Right now, when negotiations are underway to define the future of the island, it is obvious that one-sided actions of this kind are dangerous,” said the statement.

Government spokesperson Stefanos Stefanou called Turkey’s statements “unacceptable and condemnable” adding that the Republic has the right to take advantage of its natural resources, something which it always does according to international law.

“It’s up to Turkey to solve the Cyprus problem soon, end the occupation and reunite Cyprus so that its people, Greek and Turkish Cypriots together, can take advantage of its natural resources,” Stefanou said.

Cyprus has signed EEZ agreements with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.

The Lebanon agreement has not yet been ratified as the country filed a complaint at the United Nations against the Cyprus-Israel agreement citing violations of its own rights over the area’s resources.

Published on August 7, 2011

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