Russia again by our side
The statements by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov and the Spokesman of the Ministry Alexander Lukashevich concerning Turkey’s stated intention to carry out seismic studies in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) were the object of different interpretations and comments.
Some of them were negative, for instance the allusion to “unilateral actions” as referring to the Republic of Cyprus, non-recognition of the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the natural resources of its EEZ, non-reference to Turkey by name, etc.
If we look at the texts through legal and diplomatic lenses and not those of political or party expediencies we will understand their real meaning.
In the first place, the “unilateral actions and show of force” which are considered unacceptable refer to Turkey. We easily reach this conclusion from the reference in Lukashevich’s statement to “the situation around the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus”.
This EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus is recognised by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides that a coastal state has sovereign rights in its EEZ to explore, develop and preserve the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil (Article 65, subparagraph 1a). Cyprus’s right, therefore, to exploit its natural resources in its EEZ is not questioned by the Russian statements.
Finally the non-reference to Turkey by name falls within the framework of the diplomatic practice, according to which you do not put somebody in the corner if you want to influence him.
So much for the statements. Moreover, Russia took a tougher step by making a demarche to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. As a matter of fact, a demarche is stronger than a statement, since in diplomatic practice it is considered as an upgraded action.
At the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Russian Ambassador repeated the known position of Russia, as stated in August 2011 by the same Alexander Lukashevich. Replying to a question concerning Turkey’s challenges of the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the natural resources of its EEZ, Mr Lukashevich then stressed that “such activities are consistent with international law and the scope of sovereign rights available to the Republic of Cyprus in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”.
In view of the above, who can deny that Russia stood by our side?
It augers well that President Anastasiades expressed satisfaction at Russia’s reaction and in an interview published in the newspaper “Simerini” on October 12 stressed that “the option of closer relations with the United States is not taken at the expense of our traditional and friendly relations with Russia. On the contrary, and at the European Council we try with realism to warn about the problems and the consequences which will affect not only Russia”.
Even in the present climate of sanctions, Russia proved to be a real friend.