NICOSIA – With a Turkish research vessel and warship off its coast, the Cypriot government has nixed any idea of a permanent partition being sought by Ankara.
Cyprus will never accept any form of partition, government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said, while at the same time saying it would be willing to resume talks to reunify the island divided since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion, and with Turkey keeping a standing army in the northern third it occupies.
President Nicos Anastasiades broke off the talks after Turkey sent in a vessel to look for oil and gas in waters where Cyprus has already given out licenses to drill to international companies, including from the United States.
He had offered to share proceeds from any finds but took that off the table and said it wouldn’t be considered until Turkey withdraws its ships.
“We rule out and we condemn any form of partition, and we underline that only the termination of the occupation and the reunification of Cyprus and its people will bring about growth, prosperity and conditions of people and security,” Christodoulides said on the 31st anniversary of the unilateral proclamation of the Turkish-Cypriot administration in the occupied north of the island, which is recognized only by Ankara.
“At the same time, we reiterate our commitment to participate in a substantive dialogue, away from threats and intimidations,” he said in reference to Ankara’s recent encroachment of Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias called on Turkey to recognize Cyprus, which it refuses to do although Cyprus is a member of the European Union which Turkey wants to join.
Dendias said Turkish recognition of Cyprus, whose ships and planes are barred from Turkey, could be a boon for Turkish Cypriots who could share in energy revenues, which Ankara has demanded unilaterally already.
In an interview with Kathimerini, Dendias said it would be “in the extreme interest of Ankara, particularly in view of the potential for exploiting energy resources and maximizing of the benefits for Turkish Cypriots…to accept that there is a single and unique state on Cyprus which is recognized by the international community: the Cyprus Republic.”
Dendias said he hoped there could be a resumption in reunification talks and that he believed the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, which is to convene early next month in Athens, could be a “stepping stone” for bilateral ties.
He noted, however that longstanding problems could not disappear “as if by magic.” Immediately after he took office this month, Turkey sent a warship past Greek islands, including not far from Athens’ southern coast in what he said was a provocation.