Cyprus will test Greek-Turk­ish re­la­tions, build­ing bridges to Rus­sia

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Cyprus prob­lem is a key lit­mus test for Greek-Turk­ish re­la­tions, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras said in Ni­cosia on Mon­day on his first state just eight days af­ter his sweep­ing elec­tion victory.

The charis­matic leader of the anti-aus­ter­ity Syriza left­ist party also said that the Greek world needs to re­gain its in­ter­na­tional cred­i­bil­ity by main­tain­ing strong ties with Euro­pean part­ners and, per­haps, con­tribut­ing to build­ing new bridges be­tween the EU and Rus­sia.

Tsipras re­jected the no­tion of di­rect aid from Moscow, say­ing in­stead that “we are in sub­stan­tial ne­go­ti­a­tions with our part­ners in Europe and our lenders.

We have obligations to­wards them,” he added in an ob­vi­ous ef­fort to ap­pease grow­ing con­cerns among west­ern Euro­pean economies that Greece may de­fault on its debts and head out of the eu­ro­zone, known as a “Grexit”.

But he also voiced a tough stance on eastern neigh­bour Turkey that is chal­leng­ing the mar­itime ter­ri­tory of Cyprus and has set its sights on off­shore oil and gas re­sources in the eastern Mediter­ranean. Tsipras said that the ven­tures of the Turk­ish sur­vey ves­sel Bar­baros within the Cyprus Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone “is a clear vi­o­la­tion if in­ter­na­tional law and un­der­mines the (peace) talks that must re­sume.”

The Greek Prime Min­is­ter said there is a need to re­sume “a sub­stan­tial dia­logue that will lead to a sub­stan­tial con­clu­sion, once the prob­lem with the Cyprus Repub­lic’s EEZ is re­solved,” adding that the hy­dro­car­bon re­sources will be to the ben­e­fit of all the is­land’ in­hab­i­tants.

Host Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades said that the Greece re­it­er­ated its com­mit­ment to Cyprus and that through “an open and hon­est dia­logue, we em­pha­sized that the strate­gic aim is the so­lu­tion of the Cyprus prob­lem the soon­est pos­si­ble, based on fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples.”

Anas­tasi­ades added that be­tween Turkey and Greece Cyprus.

Tsipras, too, em­pha­sised the high level of the re­la­tions pass through co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two gov­ern­ments and said that the sus­tain­able so­lu­tion to the Cyprus prob­lem is a lit­mus test for Gre­coTurk­ish re­la­tions, but also for the trou­bled re­gion.

“For the new Greek gov­ern­ment the ef­fort for a fair so­lu­tion of the Cyprus is­sue is a pri­or­ity and we will sup­port this ef­fort,” Tsipras noted. “I hope the new be­gin­ning of the new Greek gov­ern­ment will be com­bined with the need of Hel­lenism to gain a voice and power to re­claim its rights,” he added.

Look­ing fur­ther north, Tsipras said he dis­cussed with Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades the need for a co­or­di­nated stance for a “bridge of peace and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Europe and Rus­sia.” He also ruled out his coun­try leav­ing the euro, say­ing any­one who be­lieved small euro zone states like Greece and Cyprus were not es­sen­tial in the bloc would be dis­proven.

Tsipras re­peated pre­vi­ous state­ments that the uni­fied body of the Troika of in­ter­na­tional lenders (EU, ECB, IMF) and their in­spec­tors who re­view the eco­nomic ad­just­ment pro­grammes in bailed out coun­tries, needs to be re­placed with di­rect re­views by Euro­pean bod­ies, a sug­ges­tion that Euro­pean Com­mis­sion head Jean Claude Juncker also hinted to over the week­end.

Tsipras, who will head off to meet other EU heads of state through­out this week, as his lieu­tenants also hold strate­gic talks with their coun­ter­parts in other Euro­pean cap­i­tals, driv­ing home the con­cept that the aus­ter­i­ty­driven bailout pro­grammes have failed and that states should turn to growth-driven strate­gies that will boost out­put, em­ploy­ment and house­hold rev­enues.

He con­cluded his Cyprus visit with brief­ings by party lead­ers and civil so­ci­ety groups, the Arch­bishop and Cyprus and an ad­dress to par­lia­ment late on Mon­day, prior to an of­fi­cial ban­quet. On Tues­day, he vis­ited the Greek armed forces brigade on the is­land (ELDYK) and em­barked on his next stop on a visit to Italy to meet with Prime Min­is­ter Ma­teo Renzi, a young cen­tre-left leader thought to be among those most sym­pa­thetic to calls for le­niency on Greek debt re­pay­ment.

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