Cyprus-Israeli energy talks ‘very serious’

Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis flies to Israel on Wednesday for talks that will include energy collaboration between the two nations but also the recent Turkish threats over Cyprus’ bid for offshore hydrocarbon exploration. Markoullis said the trip’s agenda would include discussion of exploratory drilling in Block 12, a natural gas prospect within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The visit is taking place at the invitation of Markoullis’ Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman.

Markoullis described the upcoming talks with Israeli officials as “very serious”, but declined any comment as to their expected outcome. The two governments would also discuss Turkey’s warning to Cyprus not to go ahead with plans to explore and drill for natural gas.

In recent weeks, the Turkish leadership has warned Cyprus against making any moves that might ignore the rights of Turkish Cypriots, saying that if gas exploration goes ahead, it will take “appropriate measures”.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has also made representations to Washington, warning that drilling in Cyprus’ southeast waters could jeopardise the ongoing peace process. The US administration has said it is aware of Turkey’s position on the issue, adding however, that it strongly supports all countries’ plans to secure energy supplies through better energy diversity.

Asked to comment on news reports that the United Nations may propose to Cyprus to put its natural gas plans on ice so as not to jeopardise ongoing peace talks, Markoullis noted that “no such issue exists”.

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