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    UN chief hails TRNC leader’s hydrocarbon offer

    The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader on the administration of hydrocarbon resources, according to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) presidency on Saturday.

    Guterres said in a letter to the TRNC President Mustafa Akinci that all moves to ease tensions are welcomed, the presidency said in a written statement.

    On July 13, Akinci offered Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots would cooperate on hydrocarbon resources around the island as equal partners of the island and share the income from these resources.

    Guterres stressed that he believed the need for a solution to the hydrocarbon problem in the open seas is a strong incentive for a lasting solution on Cyprus.

    He also appreciated Akinci’s commitment to a lasting solution on the island and his efforts to take more confidence-building measures.

    Akinci’s proposal was rejected by the Greek Cypriot parties.

    Hydrocarbon resources

    Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

    Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels — Fatih and most recently Yavuz — to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the rights of Turkey and the TRNC over the resources of the region.

    The Turkish-flagged drillship, Fatih, launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.

    Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join in their criticism.

    In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

    The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries — Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. — ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

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