Anastasiades Says Cyprus Won’t Back off Energy Drilling

President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NICOSIA – Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades says drilling for oil and gas by foreign companies licensed to operate off the coast will go on in the face of Turkey also sending ships into the country’s sovereign waters.

Anastasiades also blamed Turkey for seeking preconditions before negotiations over the drilling rights as he had about hopes for resuming collapsed reunification talks that fell apart in 2017 over Turkey’s insistence on keeping an army on the occupied northern third.

Anastasiades, who attended an event for the Maronite community, told reporters that Cyprus would forge ahead with energy plans even if Turkey were to propose a drilling freeze for both sides.

“We cannot relinquish our status as a state for the sake of dialogue just because Turkey is disputing us as a Republic,” Anastasiades said, reported Kathimerini Cyprus, as Cypriot media, citing unnamed sources, said Turkey was seeking international support in readying a plan to propose a halt on drilling activities and a resumption of peace talks.

That came after Turkey said that otherwise it would continue drilling and exploration in parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone in defiance of the island’s legitimate government, the United States and also ignoring soft sanctions from the European Union.

Anastasiades said he was ready to talk with Turkey but would not abide any conditions that would “dispute sovereign rights,” telling the Cyprus News Agency that, “First, Turkey must give up any and all excessive claims and suggestions on how to solve particular issues that would themselves be part of the discussion, and second, it should end violations and illegal activities in the Republic of Cyprus both on soil and in maritime zones.”

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