NICOSIA – Turkey’s belligerence toward Cyprus are keeping investors away and hurting both sides of the divided island, Cypriot Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides told the news site Al Arabiya in an interview.
“Unfortunately, Turkey is portraying intransigency and aggression towards its neighbors… which is indeed an obstacle in the mutual benefit of all people. So, I hope Turkey reconsiders its aggressive stance vis-à-vis its neighbors and especially, Cyprus, which is partially occupied by Turkey, in order to see the common good,” Petrides said.
Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said he doesn’t want reunification, the goal of diplomats since an unlawful 1974 invasion saw the northern third of the island seized, and he has insisted on recognition for the occupied side.
Turkey also keeps a 35,000-strong army there, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said will never be removed, which scuttled the last round of talks in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
He said the presence of the Turkish army is keeping Cyprus from becoming “the Switzerland of the Eastern Mediterranean” which he said would benefit “both the Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the island.”
“The political issue that Cyprus is facing because of Turkey is a drawback for Cyprus and the neighbors… the prospects would have been much, much greater,” Petrides said.
Turkey has been drilling for oil and gas in parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in defiance of soft European Union sanctions, leading the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government – which belongs to the EU – to look for energy investors in other countries, especially the Gulf.
“I think the President visited the GCC countries more than two times and he is coming here at the end of the year as well. And the energy sectors is of course one of the most important sectors that have to be enhanced and that is in the plans of the government,” Petrides added.