By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara
The divergence of views on the Cyprus issue and the extraction of natural gas in the Mediterranean, appeared once again between Ankara and Athens with the Greek Foreign Minister’s Evangelos Venizelos visit to the turkish capital, where he met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Çavuşoğlu.
After the meeting, the two ministers held a joint press conference.
The Turkish minister, after stating that Greece, like Israel and Egypt have the right to cooperate and conclude agreements between themselves, clarified that “there cannot be any restriction or measure in the eastern Mediterranean that does not include Turkey, otherwise it will increase the tension in the region. For this reason, both to the friendly country Greece and to the other countries, we emphasise that they should take this into consideration”. Essentially, the Turkish Foreign Minister expressed his opposition to the attempt to determine an Exclusive Economic Zone between Greece, Egypt and the Republic of Cyprus.
Mevlut Çavuşoğlu asked the sharing of the revenue of hydrocarbons of Cyprus, and stressed that “the Turkish Cypriots have rights on the natural gas”. The Turkish minister said that the turkish research vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa conducts research in the eastern Mediterranean region “at the request of the Turkish Cypriots, who have rights” and stressed that “we observe that the Greek Cypriot administration unilaterally conducts research and mining without recognizing the rights of Turkish Cypriots”.
The Greek Foreign Minister reminded that the talks to solve the Cyprus problem discontinued “because there is an ongoing violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean and, therefore, it is the duty of all of us to take the necessary joint initiatives to support the talks. But this presupposes the respect of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and the discontinuation of the infringement in progress.
Evangelos Venizelos said that “Cyprus as a member-state of the UN and as a member state of the EU has sovereignty and national sovereignty rights, as provided for in the international law of the sea. In this framework the undersea resources belong to the state, because the sovereign rights belong to the state. But the state ensures these rights, and mainly the revenue from the exploitation of natural resources, to the benefit of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, for the present generation but also for the future generations of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. So, it is extremely important to stop the violation of the rights of the Republic of Cyprus, to stop the violation of International Law of the Sea and to resume negotiations between the two communities, between the two sides in Cyprus. If we resort to this solution, when negotiations begin, if come to an agreed solution that will be accepted by referendum by the Cypriot people, all issues will be resolved much easier for the citizens of Cyprus, to the benefit of subsequent generations, but of course also to the benefit of Turkey and Greece and the wider region”.
Both ministers agreed that these arguments and opinions will come to the negotiating table during the visit of the Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu in Athens on December 5-6.
Besides, Çavuşoğlu stressed: “I hope for talks on the Cyprus problem to begin soon and come to a solution and peace. For this to happen, Greece and Turkey as guarantor powers and motherlands will do what they can, always in a positive sense”.