Cypriots scrutinise UK stance over their EEZ and Turkey’s EU accession

Cypriots scrutinise UK stance over their EEZ and Turkey’s EU accession

London, December 13, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Thanasis Gavos

Turkey’s activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus caused a series of formal representations, many of which were directed to the United Kingdom government.

London is after all a guarantor power of the independence and integrity of the island, but in this case it was also held accountable for seemingly trying to disassociate Turkey’s behaviour regarding Cypriot gas from its EU access negotiations.

Reports from Brussels have kept coming in about how a UK initiative has been in place over the last few weeks to promote the inclusion of a reference paving the way for opening two Turkish negotiation chapters which are kept frozen on Nicosia’ insistence in the text of the conclusions of the forthcoming General Affairs Council; essentially bypassing the Cypriot veto.

Latest reports say that this reference has been omitted from the draft text planned to be issued following this week’s council, a development most positive for the Cypriot government. However, the UK is said to still be expressing its preference for the initial, much more controversial draft text.

On the other hand, a Foreign Office letter addressed to the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK has caused satisfaction among the community in London.

Peter Droussiotis had written a month and a half ago to Prime Minister Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Clegg and Foreign Minister Hammond basically asking them to unequivocally condemn Turkey’s provocations over the Cypriot EEZ.

The response letter signed by a Foreign Office Cyprus desk official has been welcomed by the organised UK Cypriot diaspora, with particular satisfaction expressed over three points.

First of all the Foreign Office reiterates that it recognises the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus over its EEZ. Insiders point to the use of the term ‘Republic of Cyprus’ instead of simply ‘Cyprus’ as an indication of the desire to state in no uncertain terms that President Anastasiades’ government is the sole authority responsible for determining the fate of the natural resources.

The letter quickly adds the standard British remark that such natural resources should not be exploited for the benefit of just the Greek Cypriots. The phrase used in the letter is “for the benefit of all the communities in Cyprus”. This has again been received with satisfaction by some UK Cypriots as they point out that it is closer to the Greek Cypriot side’s arguments rather that the ‘two communities’ terminology used by Turkish officials with regard to the future beneficiaries of the gas exploitation.

“The demand by Turkey that profits should be shared by the two communities is being indirectly rejected, because in the sovereign Republic of Cyprus there are not just two communities, but others two (Maronites, Armenians, Latins). Thus the Foreign Office position is closer to the position stated by President Anastasiades, that following a settlement all rightful inhabitants of the island, all communities, will benefit,” commented the popular among the UK Cypriot diaspora Eleftheria newspaper.

Last but not least, Turkey is reminded of the requirement of a candidate EU member country to “recognise the EU and its Member States”, obviously including the Republic of Cyprus. For many this last point is the perfect example of Britain’s diplomatic ability – managing to offer all parties something positive and engaging even if at the same time in the corridors of power it adopts a conflicting stance.