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Politics

Cyprus’ Defense Minister Reaches Out to Turkey Over Troubled Waters

NICOSIA — ΑWhile Turkey wants two states on Cyprus where it has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion, Cypriot Defence minister Charalambos Petrides again called for talks over maritime zones.

Turkey has been drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters, ignoring soft European Union sanctions that targeted only two executives of Turkey's state-run petroleum company.

In an interview with the UAE television channel Alarabiya, Petrides said another option in the feud over the seas, with Turkey not recognizing parts of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) would be to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice – which Turkey already rejected doing.

While he wanted discussion, Petrides said that the opening of a beachfront at the abandoned resort of Varosha on the occupied side by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Edogan – in violation of United Nations resolutions – would lead to the town being restored, reopened and also occupied.

He also noted that Erdogan’s position for a two-state solution in Cyprus is in "absolute contradiction" to the agreed basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in other UN resolutions that have proved useless.

"At a time when Cyprus, along with other neighboring and friendly countries, is trying to promote a new regional framework for cooperation of bilateral and trilateral partnerships, and is strengthening and increasing cooperation with Mediterranean EU powers and other neighbouring states, Turkey is the only state in the region that chooses provocations, escalations, threats and disinformation as a basis for its foreign policy," he said.

Newly-elected hardline Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who said he would follow Erdogan's line to the letter, wants two states, essentially making moot any reunification talks he blamed the Greek-Cypriot side for the last round of talks falling apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

He didn't mention the negotiations broke off when Erdogan and the then-leader of the Turkish-Cypriot side, Mustafa Akinci, saying they would never remove a 35,000-strong army on their side and wanted the right of military intervention.

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