Anastasiades Says Cyprus Won't Buckle to Turkish Threats

Αssociated press

Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades talks during an interview with the Associated Press at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday Sept. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Although Turkey has pulled one of two energy research vessels drilling for oil and gas in in Cypriot sovereign waters, President Nicos Anastasiades said he's on guard and that his government will hang tough and continue efforts to reach a settlement to reunify the island divided by an unlawful 1974 invasion.

“We will not waver under threats and we will continue to fight for the issue,” Anastasiades said after being awarded with an honorary law degree from the Law School of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, saying it's a matter of international laws – that Turkey doesn't recognize. Anastasiadis said that his legitimate government – only Turkey recognizes the self-declared republic on the occupied northern third – will  take part in any negotiations that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterre3s believes necessary “to prepare the ground for talks leading to a viable and functional solution of the Cyprus issue.”

He repeated what he said at the 4th Euro-Arab World Summit in Athens, that his country won’t be cowed by Turkish ships drilling for energy in the island’s sovereign waters and will let foreign companies licensed there to also hunt for oil and gas.

Anastasiades said the Cypriot government has never disregarded the interests of the Turkish-Cypriots, said Kathimerini, as they rejected his offer to give them 30 percent of any potentially lucrative revenues.

Turkish-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they want their side, which has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion, to share in the licensing and have a greater role in decision making.

The last round of reunification talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when they said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army and wanted the right of military intervention when they wanted.

With the energy becoming a catalyst that could either spur or kill new negotiations, Anastasiades said that the solution – also nixed by the other side –  “will represent a transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi-communal bi-zonal state, which will secure the human rights and the two communities’ prospects of cooperation, without dependencies on third countries.”