Greek mediator: Turkish rights important in Cyprus talks

- In talks with Turkey on Cyprus' offshore energy resources, Greek team leader open to discussion of Turkish point of view.

ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's rights in the dispute over Cyprus' offshore energy resources must be considered, said the Greek team leader in non-binding exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece.

"We cannot deny that Turkey is a key country in the region, and as the Turkish prime minister said, it is not acceptable for us to ignore its requests regarding the Cyprus resources," Greek team leader Pavlos Apostolidis told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Sunday. 

Turkey is an important player in the eastern Mediterranean, and there cannot be a determination against Turkey’s will, Apostolidis said. 

But we are not ready to finalize the talks, he added. "The Greek government already has problems because of the economic crisis and it cannot handle foreign policy at the same time." 

Exploratory talks on the Cyrpus offshore energy resources are due to commence in the spring. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu will head the Turkish team.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Dec.10, 2014 that Turkey would continue drilling gas in the Eastern Mediterranean as long as the Greek Cypriot administration insists on all rights to the gas reserves. He pledged to protect Turkish Cypriots’ right to the natural gas resources until a fair distribution of resources is agreed with the Greek Cypriot administration.

Peace talks between the two sides resumed last February 2014. But the Greek Cypriot administration suspended the talks when Turkey sent a ship to explore oil and gas resources around the island.

Greek and Turkish foreign ministry officials have been holding exploratory talks regarding the Aegean continental shelf since 2002.

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