NICOSIA, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The parliamentary parties of Cyprus have rejected a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to set up a joint committee to manage hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, a statement released here said on Tuesday.
The party leaders met under the leadership of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to examine the proposal floated by Akinci just ahead of sanctions on Turkey were announced by the EU member states' foreign ministers for "illegal" drilling activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that acceptance of Akinci's proposal by the Greek Cypriots would end the confrontation and warned that if it were rejected, Turkey would continue and expand its drilling activities around Cyprus.
Just before the Greek Cypriot response was announced, Cavusoglu said Turkey was sending a fourth ship to the region off the coast of Cyprus to enhance its activities, describing the EU's sanctions as "silly messages of solidarity to satisfy the Greek Cypriots."
The Greek Cypriot parties' statement, presented by Undersecretary to the President Vassilis Palmas after a three-hour meeting, said the proposal was likely to hinder efforts by the United Nations to restart the Cyprus peace negotiations.
"It distracts from the essence of the Cyprus problem and the need for immediate resumption of substantive negotiations with a view -- if there is sufficient will from all concerned -- to achieve a sustainable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of United Nations resolutions and the principles and values of the European Union," the statement said.
Akinci had proposed the setting up of a joint committee by the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities with equal participation to license drilling activities after unanimous decisions and to set up a fund from which the two sides would benefit based on the principle of equality.
Greek Cypriots make up 80 percent and Turkish Cypriots 20 percent of the population of the eastern Mediterranean island, according to Cypriot media.
The Greek Cypriot statement also said that "the proposal of Mr Akinci contains provisions that do not serve the best interests of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot people as a whole."
This was a clear reference to the fact that Turkish Cypriots support Turkish claims on areas demarcated under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as lying within Cypriot jurisdiction.
Palmas said Anastasiades will send a point-by-point reply to Akinci and will also notify the recipients of Akinci's proposal, including the UN secretary general and the leaders of the European Union.