Anastasiades Wants Turkish Ban on Cypriot Ships Lifted

Αssociated press

FILE - Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades speaks to the media at the presidential palace in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said Turkey - which has sent energy vessels and warships into the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast - should end its ban prohibiting Cypriot ships.

Speaking at the 30th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber in Limassol, he said Cyprus would step up efforts to remove the unlawful ban imposed by Turkey - which doesn’t recognize his legitimate government, a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join.

He said the blocking of Cypriot ships - Cypriot planes are banned in Turkey too - was a clear violation of international law.

“Our efforts to remove these anachronistic and illegal restrictions will be further intensified as they are a clear violation of international law,” Anastasiades said.

“Cyprus is one of the most modern and quality international shipping centres, having the eleventh largest fleet in the world and the third in Europe, strategically located, with excellent infrastructure, maritime specialization, but above all the determination to do all organizational, structural and tax reforms needed for a promising future,” he said, the Cyprus Mail reported.

He had offered to share potentially lucrative oil and gas revenues with Turkish-Cypriots unlawfully occupying the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion, an area recognized in the world only by Turkey, leaving it isolated.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said that wasn’t enough and wanted to take part in the licensing of foreign companies, and now instead sending in Turkish vessels to also look for energy, ramping up tension.

“In any case, what I am aware of is that the European Union is monitoring Turkey and if measures are required, they will be taken,” he said.