In his intervention at the European Council today, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades recalled that last June the European Council had reiterated its commitment to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality and had called on Turkey to do the same, according to a written statement by Government Spokesman Marios Pelekanos.
President Anastasiades then referred to what came out of the informal trilateral meeting in New York on 27 September, during which it was agreed to appoint a UN Special Envoy for the Cyprus problem, with the aim of overcoming any obstacles in order to resume the talks. The President of the Republic explained that after the meeting, the Turkish side – despite what had been agreed with the Turkish Cypriot leader before the UN Secretary General – backed down, refusing to appoint a Special Envoy, with the aim of consolidating the current deadlock.
The President of the Republic then went on to say that Turkey’s attitude was accompanied by a series of new violations of international law – again in total defiance of what the European Council had called on it to do – which not only hinder the prospect of resuming a fruitful dialogue – but also escalate tensions, in violation of what the EU had asked Ankara to do.
(a) On 3 October, two Turkish warships obstructed the research vessel “NAUTICAL GEO”, licensed by the Republic of Cyprus authorities, which was attempting to conduct research within the Cypriot exclusive zone, in an area demarcated between Cyprus and Egypt, just 20 nautical miles south-west of Cyprus. The work of this research vessel is related to the construction of the EastMed pipeline, an important project included in the EU’s Projects of Common Interest in the field of energy and funded by the EU.
(b) On 13 October, the occupation authorities started large-scale infrastructure works in the so-called “pilot area” in the enclosed area of Varosha. On this point, the President recalled that the unilateral and illegal declassification of the “pilot area” from military to residential had led to the unanimous condemnation of Turkey by the UN Security Council and the EU, which called for the immediate cessation of its illegal actions.
(c) On 15 October, the occupation regime proceeded to cede to the Turkish military forces land totalling 145 square kilometres in Rizokarpaso, owned by ethnic Greek refugees, with the apparent aim of building some kind of large military installation. This move is taking place in conjunction with the Turkish drone base in the occupied areas of Cyprus, as well as with Turkish plans to build another naval base in the occupied areas.
Following this, the President of the Republic asked how we could talk about a possible offer of a positive agenda to Turkey in this context and recalled that we are also waiting for the relevant options paper on actions the EU can take in relation to the illegal Turkish actions in the enclosed city of Famagusta.
Further, President Anastasiades stressed that – in addition to the above existential threats – we are also facing hybrid threats from Turkey on the issue of migration, informing that in 2021 alone, more than 6800 asylum applications were recorded and of these, 6250 came through the occupied territories, with Cyprus having the highest per capita rate of asylum seekers in the EU.
The President of the Republic also pointed out that the increased flows are mainly due to the instrumentalisation of migrants by Turkey and their systematic and deliberate promotion through the Green Line to the free areas, in violation of its obligations under the EU-Turkey Declaration of 2016, while at the same time deploring the fact that Turkey continues its policy of colonisation of the occupied territories and the alteration of the demographic composition of the island.
EU partners expressed their full support and solidarity with Cyprus, both in relation to the efforts to resume the negotiation process and the pressures on the country due to the increased migratory flows that continue.
In this context, the European Council Conclusions adopted explicit and clear references in which, inter alia, for the first time, a reference is made by name to Turkey’s obligation to implement its obligations under the 2016 EU-Turkey Declaration, including the Republic of Cyprus. Furthermore, it is stressed that the EU will not accept any attempt by a third country to use migrants for political purposes. At the same time, all hybrid attacks at the EU’s external borders are condemned and it is noted that the EU will react accordingly./ibna