By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia
Tensions between Cyprus-Turkey rose even more on Tuesday, as the Cypriot Council of political party leaders endorsed a suggestion by the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades to suspend UN-lead peace talks with the Turkish Cypriot side. The negotiations are aiming in unifying the divided island, since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
On Monday the government warned that it was mulling a range of diplomatic and legal responses to Turkey’s announcement that it is reserving areas for seismic surveys south of the island within Cyprus’ offshore blocks. More specifically Turkey has issued a NAVTEX (Navigational Telex), a notice to mariners advising that it was reserving Cyprus areas from October 20 to December 30. On Tuesday a Turkish gunship was seen in a very close range to the drilling operations.
Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides announced that the President’s meetings as well as the meetings of the Greek Cypriot negotiator with the Turkish Cypriot side are suspended.
UN official in Cyprus
In a different development, UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide arrived on Tuesday afternoon on the island and is expected to have on Wednesday separate meetings with President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
The United Nations Good Offices Mission in Cyprus had announced that the two leaders would be meeting on October 9 in the United Nations Protected Area of Nicosia at the Good Offices Mission.
Replying to another question concerning the suspension of the talks with the Turkish Cypriot side, Christodoulides said that “it is clear that Turkish actions do not leave any other choice to the Republic of Cyprus.”
Responding to another question, Christodoulides said that President Anastasiades has been having since yesterday telephone conversations with European and other leaders, adding that he will also have such conversations today to inform leaders about the situation caused by a notice issued by Turkey to seafarers which binds areas within Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone.
Asked if the government is disappointed over the reaction so far, Christodoulides said that “we expect all states, and especially our EU partners, and also the Security Council Permanent Members to react to this Turkish action.”
On Tuesday night, President Nicos Anastasiades expressed deep regret that he was compelled, due to developments, to suspend his participation in the UN-led peace talks.
In a written reply to a statement by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on the matter, the President assured the Turkish Cypriots that he remains committed to finding a negotiated settlement and to working with all his strength to achieve this goal.
President Anastasiades reiterated that the natural wealth of the Republic of Cyprus belongs to the state and the achievement of a solution will help so that the entire population of Cyprus will benefit “on the basis of population ratios.”
However, he points out, at a time when the Greek Cypriot side proposes measures to build confidence in order to create a new momentum in the ongoing dialogue and to have the real intentions of the parties involved revealed, Turkey, ignoring the benefits that it would have from the solution of the Cyprus problem, “proceeds with actions which flagrantly violate the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, strongly undermining the efforts to find a just, viable and functional solution for the benefit of all Cypriots.”
“My strong desire for a solution to the Cyprus problem is well-known,” he says, adding that unfortunately Eroglu`s stance and Ankara`s actions in the past few days “leave me no other option.”
Anastasiades wondered if these actions serve any pre-election objectives or other purposes for Eroglu.
The British Foreign Office has expressed regret over recent incidents that have risked raising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, reiterating at the same time that London recognises Cyprus sovereign rights over its EEZ.