Greece is seeking a “cessation of occupation” by Turkey in the northern part of the island of Cyprus and with cautious optimism awaits the upcoming meeting of the President of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiadis with the leader of the Turkish community of the island Mustafa Akıncı. This was announced on Monday in Nicosia by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his first foreign visit as head of government. Mitsotakis statement issued the press service of the prime minister.
After negotiations with Anastasiadis, Mitsotakis stressed that with regard to the Cyprus problem for Greece, “the termination of the Turkish occupation remains the main concern.” “This is the absolute strategic goal of Greece’s foreign policy. In this spirit, I expressed satisfaction with the upcoming meeting of President Anastasiadis with Mr. Akıncı and my discreet optimism that a new basis for mutual understanding may emerge that will allow us to achieve some kind of progress on this critical national issue, “said the prime minister.
“However, I repeated to the President of Cyprus that it’s quite obvious to Greece that it’s impossible to imagine a solution to the Cyprus issue without completely canceling outdated guarantees [by the guarantor countries] and withdrawing [Turkish] occupation forces from the island. This is absolutely anachronistic which cannot be continued to apply, especially to EU member states, and I await with great interest information from the president following the August 9 talks, “Mitsotakis emphasized.
According to him, the sides also discussed the topic of “growing provocativeness on the part of Turkey, which absolutely violates the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as ways to respond to it in an organized manner, which are obviously not limited to only excellent cooperation between Greece and Cyprus.” “This is a reaction that also applies to the entire European Union, since it is not only about the sovereign rights of a member state, but also about the EU’s own energy policy regarding the need to diversify energy sources in the Eastern Mediterranean basin. And I want to repeat that within the European Institutions of Cyprus should take for granted the support of Greece so that any escalation of Turkish provocation leads to a similar reaction, above all at the European level, “said Mitsotakis.
Earlier, Greece called the EU a very encouraging reaction to Turkey’s actions in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. A statement by the EU Council, circulated in Brussels on July 15 following a meeting of foreign ministers from 28 countries of the community, said that the European Union imposed sanctions on Turkey because of drilling in the Cyprus EEZ. The EU Council decided to suspend negotiations on the conclusion of a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, and also not to hold the Association Council and further high-level dialogues between the EU and Turkey.
The Council also approved the proposal of the European Commission to reduce assistance to Turkey for 2020 and also invited the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey. In response, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt авavusoglu said on July 16 that Turkey, despite European Union sanctions, intends to intensify geological exploration in the Cyprus region.
Large natural gas deposits have been found on the shelf and in the Cyprus EEZ. In 2011, the American company Noble Energy discovered, in particular, the Aphrodite deposit, whose reserves are estimated at about 140 billion cubic meters. Ankara, challenging the borders of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, previously sent the Fatih vessel to the area, stating that the drilling will continue until September 3.
On June 10, the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus authorized the arrest of the crew members of a Turkish drilling ship. Despite this, on July 4, Turkey sent a second vessel, Yavuz, to conduct geological exploration on the shelf. Drilling vessels are guarded by warships. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared the country’s readiness to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots to shelf fields, including with the use of armed forces.
The last round of negotiations on Cyprus under the auspices of the UN was held in Switzerland (in the town of Crans-Montana) from June 28 to July 7, 2017. The head of the Greek community, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiadis, the leader of the Turkish community of the island Mustafa Akinci, representatives of the guarantor countries – Great Britain, Greece and Turkey took part in it. The European Union invited to the talks as an observer was also represented.
The round ended inconclusively due to substantial differences between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides. Since then, attempts have been made to resume negotiations on a Cyprus settlement.