Turkey blocks Cyprus peace: Anastasiades
Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (pictured) says a resumption of talks to reunify the island is unlikely because of the Turkish blockade of offshore gas drilling attempts and “unacceptable” demands by Turkey’s Cypriot quasi-colony.
He told MPs that he was ready to talk when Turkey stopped its “illegal” action.
“Unfortunately Turkey, and our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, appear not to think be willing [to hold talks] but by resorting to more violations of international law and unacceptable demands make the resumption of talks impossible, at least at the present time,” the president told MPs after being sworn in.
Anastasiades added that demands by Turkish Cypriots over the gas search were aimed to serve the interests of mainland Turks, not those of islanders.
He said the handling of natural gas resources had been agreed in peace negotiations by his predecessor and the previous Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Turkish northern Cyprus is only recognised by Turkey.
He said any peace deal must end Turkey’s guardianship of Turkish Cypriots and its control of the northern third of the island.
Earlier this month Turkish warships prevented a rig from reaching an area southeast of Cyprus where Italian energy giant Eni was due to drill for gas. Similar action was taken in 2014.
Turkey says it deployed the ships to safeguard the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey refuses to relinquish the waters to Greek Cyprus and threatened to take further action if development continued.
Cyprus has been drilling off its coast for years in the hope of rivalling Egypt’s vast Zohr reserves. This year’s massive discovery south of the island, in a field known as Calypso, opens the potential for the government to become a gas exporter.
The Turkish foreign ministry, however, said it was “determined to take the necessary steps” to support its Cypriot puppet state and accused the Greek Cypriots of “irresponsibly jeopardising the security and stability of the eastern Mediterranean region”.
Turkey blamed energy exploration for scuppering the 2017 reunification talks.
“[A]s long as the Greek-Cypriot administration continues its unilateral hydrocarbon-related activities, it will remain evident just how far removed the Greek-Cypriot side is from perceiving the Turkish Cypriots as their equal partners,” the foreign ministry told the media.
Mona Sukkarieh of the Beirut-based Middle East Strategic Perspectives (MESP) said the gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean were fuelling disputes between Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Cyprus, rather than easing other issues.
“Shared interest in [energy resources] might provide an incentive for cooperation among countries of the region that already enjoy more or less good relations,” the West Asia specialist said. “But it is equally conceivable that they could fuel rivalries as well, like we are seeing lately with Turkey.”
Nicos Anastasiades. Picture credit: Wikimedia