EU and Greece, Cyprus Foreign Ministries issue announcements; Nikos Christodoulidis to travel to France
By Michalis Michael
Turkey is yet again using its “Conqueror” drilling rig to cause tension in the Cyprus EEZ. The presence of the “Barbaros” vessel in Cypriot territory had come earlier. These actions on behalf of Turkey come at a time of little movement on the Cyprus issue front, something which was expected to change with the work of diplomat Jane Lutte on the terms of reference. Hence all the information coming from diplomatic sources in Nicosia that Turkey’s provocations will impact on the Cyprus issue.
Also at a diplomatic level, Nicosia is not expected to sit with its hands crossed. Moves are already being made, while sources point out that the Cypriot Foreign Minister is expected to put all the relevant issues to French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian when they meet in Paris next week. With the Cypriot FM’s entire schedule not yet finalized, it is considered certain that he will also meet with TOTAL’s Director of North Africa and Middle East, Stephan Michel. During his meetings, he is also expected to discuss the Cyprus issue and matters concerning the relations and cooperation between Cyprus and France, including France’s participation in the tripartite scheme formed by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.
Anastasiadis: We will not stay idle
Responding to questions at the Cyprus conference organized by his ruling party ahead of elections, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiadis spoke strongly about Turkey’s provocative behavior.
He said he did not think that Turkey can help the talks to resolve the Cyprus issue via its actions, and it is time that everyone realized that, unfortunately, obstacles exist to the relaunch of talks, despite Cyprus’ political will. Responding to a journalist who pointed out that Turkey is sending the “Conqueror” to the Cypriot EEZ, something that is inconsistent with the discussion about developments in the Cyprus issue, President Anastasiadis said that “the first thing I want to say is that Turkey’s illegal actions follow the Security Council’s recommendation that any action should be avoided – and the direction this is aimed at is very clear – in order to facilitate what we all want, to reopen dialogue”.
Condemnation by Greece and EU
Turkey’s moves were immediately answered diplomatically by the Cypriot Foreign Ministry. “Legal, political and diplomatic actions have already been put in motion, taking advantage of all the possibilities and especially within the framework of the European Union,” was the initial reaction, while an announcement issued later by the Cyprus FM stressed that Turkey’s provocative action is a serious violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus under international and EU law.
“At the same time, it reveals Turkey’s real intentions with regard to the Cyprus issue, but also explains why Ankara rejected the proposal for an informal Crans Montana-like meeting to discuss the Cyprus issue. It was precisely in this context that the UN Security Council recently stressed the need to avoid actions that negatively affect the attempt to resume talks. ” “The Republic of Cyprus, aware of the intentions of Turkey, has taken and is taking all appropriate steps to deal with the situation as a Member State of the European Union and the United Nations, and as a State playing an active role in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” the Foreign Ministry said.
A strong-worded announcement was also issued by the Greek Foreign Ministry, condemning Turkey’s decision to proceed with illegal drilling the Cyprus Republic’s EEZ.
“We call on Turkey to stop its illegal activities immediately, to respect the inalienable rights of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus for the benefit of all the people of Cyprus, and to refrain from further actions that undermine stability in the region, as well as the resumption of talks towards a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue” an announcement reads. At the same time, the Greek Foreign Ministry welcomes “the calm and collected stance of the Republic of Cyprus, which confirms its role as a pillar of stability and a credible partner in the Eastern Mediterranean”. Recalling the content of the March 2018 European Council Conclusions and subsequent European Union views, Athens states that “it remains in constant communication and coordination with the Republic of Cyprus, as well as with its EU partners and allies in terms of deciding appropriate future action”.
In turn, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, called Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus, to show restraint and to refrain from any such illegal action in the EEZ, warning that the EU will react in complete solidarity with Cyprus.
In addition, the High Representative said in her statement that “we are deeply concerned about Turkey’s announced intention to conduct drilling activities in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus”./ibna