NICOSIA – Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades spoke on the phone on Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to discuss the coordination of Nicosia’s and Athens’ actions after the renewal, until March 10, of an illegal Turkish NAVTEX in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, a Cyprus government source revealed to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).
According to the same source, Anastasiades will chair a meeting of ministers and officials handling issues relating to the EEZ and hydrocarbons on Tuesday.
TURKS WARN CYPRUS TO STOP FOREIGN COMPANIES ENERGY DRILLING
As Turkish warships kept an Italian company from reaching waters where it is licensed to drill for oil and gas, a self-declared minister on the occupied part of the island said the legitimate government must cease energy exploration.
Kudret Özersay, called Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister by the Republic only Turkey has recognized since an unlawful 1974 invasion, said Cyprus – the part which belongs to the European Union – won’t be permitted to continue energy exploration without permission of the Turks living on the island.
“They cannot continue before the Cyprus issue is settled, or, if it would not be possible, without reaching an understanding with the Turkish Cypriot side,” Özersay said in a written statement reported by the Hurriyet Daily News in Turkey.
“Unfortunately, Greek Cyprus’ membership to the EU occurred in the same manner. We are intent on not allowing a similar development to take place on the issue of natural gas,” he said, according to the newspaper.
Cyprus joined the EU on May 1, 2004, after Cypriots rejected a unification plan put together by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan although it was backed by the Turkish-Cypriot side.
Turkey claims the same sovereign waters that belong to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and wants a share of any potentially lucrative oil and gas discoveries while saying it will also explore in the same waters where Italian, US and French companies have licenses.
The EU and US said Cyprus has the right to explore in the waters but Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who walked away from unity talks at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July, 2017 when Turkey insisted on the right to keep an army on the island and wanted the right to militarily intervene, has remained mostly quiet over the lingering showdown with the Italian company ENI saying it might withdraw unless a diplomatic solution is found.