Cyprus president: Turkish side acting ‘outside UN parameters’ in reunification talks

Anastasiades stressed that the energy plans were progressing normally. [Shutterstock]

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades expressed his willingness to return to the negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem after the failure of the talks last month.

However, he emphasised that the talks should be within the parameters laid down by UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

On the other hand, he said that Turkey did not intend to find a solution within the UN framework and “prefers to act outside the UN parameters”.

The Cypriot leader also called on those who show interest in a solution to the Cyprus issue to “take this into account”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said last month that the failure of the talks showed the “impossibility of a solution within the parameters of the UN Good Offices Mission”.

“There is no meaning left in continuing within these parameters,” he said, adding that Ankara will continue efforts to find a resolution “under different parameters”.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday (27 July) that the EU executive wants a “European solution” to the Cyprus issue.

Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias recently told EURACTIV in an interview that Turkey has not identified what it means when it says parameters outside the UN.

“I think that any solution to the Cyprus problem must be within the framework of the UN and more generally, within the framework of international law. There can be no solution to the Cyprus problem by imposing mechanisms and procedures that are outside the international context,” Kotzias said.

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Energy plans

Regarding the much-discussed oil and gas drilling that a consortium of France’s Total and Italy’s Eni is now carrying out in the region, Anastasiades stated that the government’s energy plans were progressing normally [See background].

A total of 2,000 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas has been discovered in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and exploration continues. The EU’s total gas consumption was 426 bcm in 2015.

In a symbolic move, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and Italy’s Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti visited the island last month to support the energy activities.

Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak recently said that Ankara was planning to launch oil and gas drilling operations in the last four months of 2017 in the Mediterranean.

Commenting on such a scenario, Anastasiades stressed that Nicosia would always adhere to legality.

“In case Ankara violates international law and what the Law of the Sea provides there will be relevant intense actions from the Republic of Cyprus towards the international bodies, the Security Council and others,” the Cypriot president warned.

Turkey is the only member of the United Nations which does not recognise Cyprus. Unlike Nicosia, it has not signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Turkey also claims that Cyprus’s internationally recognised government has no jurisdiction to explore for hydrocarbons.

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Background

A total of 2,000 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas has been discovered in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and exploration continues. For the sake of comparison, the total annual consumption of natural gas in the EU was 426 bcm in 2015.

Turkey is the only member of the United Nations which does not recognise Cyprus. Unlike Nicosia, it has not signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

France’s Total and Italy’s ENI moved into position on 12 July to start exploratory drilling off Cyprus’s coast. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned the energy companies, and indirectly the two capitals, not to proceed with the drilling, as they would risk “losing a friend”.

Further Reading