President Anastasiades: “Erdogan wants to make Turkey a superpower in the Mediterranean”

President Anastasiades: “Erdogan wants to make Turkey a superpower in the Mediterranean”

The German newspaper “Die Welt” publishes an interview of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades with the journalist Carolina Drüten. The President of Cyprus answered various questions about Turkey’s illegal drilling in the Cyprus maritime area, the Turkey-Libya agreement, the refugee problem, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and spoke of a “trust account” where revenue from natural gas can be deposited for the Turkish Cypriots even before a solution of the Cyprus problem.

Asked if Turkey is becoming more and more aggressive in the region, Anastasiades replied that “unfortunately yes. (…) Ankara violates the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. (…) Unlike Turkey, we see energy as a catalyst for peace and development in the Eastern Mediterranean. The basis for this must be full compliance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – not “piracy”.

Answering another question, the Cypriot President stressed that “President Erdogan is a troublemaker. He wants to make Turkey a superpower in the Mediterranean. Illegal activities in Cypriot waters are part of Turkey’s revisionist policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. Other additional examples (of this policy) include expansionary actions in Syria, Libya, Greece and the instrumentalization of the immigration issue”.

Noting that Turkey claims that drilling off the coast of Cyprus is merely protecting the interests of Turkish Cypriots neglected by the government of the Republic of Cyprus, the President noted that “according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, The central government has jurisdiction over all the resources (revenues) that result from the exploitation of raw materials in the territory belonging to a country. We have shown goodwill: A national fund in the Norwegian model should take into account the interests of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in state gas revenues”.

He further added that natural gas revenues were “very important” and added that “I am ready to invest in the Turkish Cypriot community. This money could even be disbursed without a solution to the Cyprus problem and for the benefit of the Turkish Cypriots – as soon as Turkey complies with international law and recognizes our exclusive economic zone. It must stop violating our sovereignty. But as long as Ankara threatens the neighboring countries and the energy companies we work with, that will not happen”.

In the journalist’s remark, among other things, that the signs show an escalation of tension, Nicos Anastasiades underlined that “I am particularly concerned about the Turkish threat against the EEZ of Greece. If Greeks are forced to defend their territory, it poses a huge threat to peace throughout the region. Cyprus, on the other hand, is a small country. We have neither the Navy nor the Air Force to defend our rights. We rely on the support of our partners”.

The journalist further stated that Germany chooses a more restrained approach to foreign policy problems, and asked the President if he wants more initiative from Berlin, with The Cypriot President noting that “I appreciate the German position. From a diplomatic point of view, self-restraint can help even by not displeasing either side. I called Chancellor Merkel on Thursday (last week). We talked about tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. I hope that Germany uses its influence in Brussels, while at the same time putting pressure on relations with Turkey and President Erdogan”.

Commenting on the journalist’s comment about harsh sanctions against Turkey, the President of the Republic of Cyprus responded in the affirmative. Regarding the journalist’s comment if there is hope for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus issue, Nicos Anastasiades said that “we are always ready to return to the negotiating table and continue the talks at the point where they were completed three years ago. Peace talks are the only way to reach an agreement. But Turkey does not seem ready to do so at the moment”.

Finally, answering questions about the coronavirus pandemic in relation to tourism, he underlined that “the tourism industry is the backbone of our country. Due to our precautionary measures, Cyprus has epidemiologically one of the lowest per capita rates of infected persons in Europe. (…) The opening of tourist accommodations and airports is valid for low-risk countries and Germany also belongs to these countries. (…) We hope for a positive development; so far we have managed to successfully deal with the pandemic. 2020 may not be the best year for tourism but it could still be a good year”./ibna