Continued from page 1

Ms. Kozakou-Marcoullis was skeptical about Turkish-Cypriot efforts, saying they lacked the appropriate technology and predicting that foreign oil companies would be wary of investing in northern Cyprus.

“I think that there will not be any foreign companies that will put in danger their credibility and prestige by engaging in illegal activities,” she said.

“When you conduct hydrocarbon exploration in a sovereign area of a state without the approval of that state, definitely it is an unacceptable, illegal activity which nobody would like to undertake,” she added.

Mr. Erdengiz, however, insisted that the island’s natural resources are jointly owned by the two communities.

“The Greek Cypriots do not have the right to arrogate themselves the sole ownership of the natural resources of the island,” he said, adding that the Turkish Cypriots were left with no option but to do their own exploration because the Greek Cypriots refused to accept their offer for joint exploration.

Ms. Kozakou-Marcoullis said Cyprus has followed the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas to the letter while carrying out the exploration.

The latest efforts to reunify Cyprus faltered in April, as the Cypriot government blamed the Turkish-Cypriot leader and Turkey.

Ms. Kozakou-Marcoullis described the saga of the talks as a “very sad story.”

She said she has not seen any change in the posture of the Turkish-Cypriot side that would give her reason for hope.

Turkey is responsible for this situation. The Turkish-Cypriot leadership is following the decision of the leadership in Turkey,” she said.

Ms. Kozakou-Marcoullis said the United States should leverage its good relations with Turkey to press for a resumption of reunification talks.

Cyprus is located in a volatile neighborhood where anti-government uprisings of the Arab Spring have toppled dictators throughout the region.

Ms. Kozakou-Marcoullis said these changes have been positive, but she cautioned that the transition period in these countries will be long.

“We have to ensure that the situation that will prevail will be truly democratic… [and] fully respect not only human rights but also religious rights and religious beliefs of the different communities that exist in these countries, especially the Christian communities,” she said.

Cyprus has joined Greece, Italy and Malta to open a joint initiative to engage countries affected by the Arab Spring.

Story Continues →