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Politics

Defying Turkey, Anastasiades Says Cyprus Will Keep Drilling Too

October 30, 2019

With a standoff threatening to get worse, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said 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.

Speaking at the 4th Euro-Arab World Summit in Athens, 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.”

“We do not need guarantors and legal guardians. We can live together peacefully and co-create a joint perspective,” Anastasiades said. Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has military bases on the island are guarantors of security, along with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

He said Greece and Cyprus will move on without Turkey for agreements with other countries, with Egypt and Israel keenly interested in energy prospects that could shut out Turkish-Cypriots unless the Turkish ships make a discovery too while working inside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of  Cyprus, a member of the European Union Turkey wants to join one day.

“These alliances are not directed against any third country. On the contrary, every country is welcome to join, on the condition that they respect the basic principles of international law and good neighborly relations,” he said, reported Kathimerini Cyprus.

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