By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia
Diplomatic meetings and discussions with other countries is considered one of Cyprus government’s priorities. The goal is to promote relations seeking as much support as possible on the “Cyprus issue” and more specifically on the efforts to unify the divided island since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The government is currently in negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side. However two sides seem to fail to agree on basic terms and accuse each other for lack of will.
Today the US and Polish ambassadors in Nicosia expressed their governments positions on the process made on the Cyprus issue and commented on others important issues here in Cyprus, such the country’s economic recovery.
The reunification of Cyprus continues to be a top priority for the US, ambassador John Koenig said on Wednesday, and he urged Turkey to contribute to efforts to solve the Cyprus issue. Koenig made the comment in his address to the 25th conference of the Central Council of the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA).
“Relations between the US and Cyprus have never been stronger than they are today and the relationship continues to deepen in a wide variety of ways,” the ambassador said.
He said US Vice President Joe Biden`s visit to Cyprus in May was the first in 52 years and a “watershed moment” in the relations between the two governments. “The visit was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of our intensified relationship with the Republic of Cyprus.”
“We have seen a number of US companies set up shop in Cyprus in the past year, to position themselves to support the growing energy economy on the island and the region while there have been major investments in banking and tourism. These investments are a vote of confidence by American investors in the Cyprus economy and a statement of the clear belief that Cyprus has turned the corner economically and is becoming increasingly important economic partner for the US,” Koenig said.
On the Cyprus issue, the ambassador said it was “critically important” that Turkey contributed to efforts for a Cyprus settlement (the unification of the divided island) and one of the issues was to discuss how effectively Turkey could make a contribution.
“The benefits of a settlement are absolutely unmistakable,” he said. A solution would enable Cyprus to not only chart a course for itself to a more secure and prosperous future, but to also make a significant contribution to the stability of the region. “And it would enable Cyprus to be an even stronger partner for the United States.” The US was looking forward to working with the UN’s new Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide but compromise and reconciliation were going to be needed, as was commitment from the two sides, and from Turkey.
“The US commitment to help Cypriots find a solution to the Cyprus problem pre-dates by several decades the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Koenig.
“While it is clearly US policy to promote diverse, secure and affordable sources of energy, those who suggest that this heightened American interest in Cyprus is all about oil and gas misread history and fail to see the larger picture. The US has always sought closer relations with Cyprus and welcomes Cyprus’ new openness to working with us”.
Polish Ambassador urges Turkey
Meantime Polish Ambassador to Cyprus Barbara Tuge-Erecinska stressed here today that it is in everybody`s interest for Turkey to comply with EU rules, commenting on developments in the Cyprus problem during a meeting at the Parliament with House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou.
According to an official press release, during the meeting the House Speaker praised the good relations and cooperation between the two countries and their parliaments, on a bilateral level and also within the framework of the EU, noting that there is still room for improvement.
With regard to developments in the Cyprus problem, Omirou expressed regret for the absence of progress due to longstanding Turkish intransigence. Concerning Turkey`s EU accession process, he reiterated that Cyprus supports Turkey`s European perspective, as long as Turkey complies with its obligations towards the Union and the Republic of Cyprus, obligations deriving from the Ankara Protocol.
Omirou criticized Ankara`s provocative acts against Cyprus exercising its energy related sovereign rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone, pointing out that the Republic of Cyprus exercises these rights according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which is part of the acquis communautaire.
The Polish Ambassador expressed Poland`s intense interest in the UN-led negotiating process, stressing that a positive outcome would terminate Turkey’s occupation and division of the island and turn Cyprus into a strong partner for the benefit of the EU and the broader region.
Noting that the maintenance of the current status quo in Cyprus sends the wrong messages with regard to legitimizing faits accomplis, created by the use of force, Tuge – Erecinska indicated that it is in everybody`s interest for Turkey to comply with EU rules.