Cyprus leader says drilling to go on, seeks calm

In in­ter­view, Anas­tasi­ades raps Turks, Eide

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Cypriot Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades blamed Turkey for the col­lapse of the lat­est United Na­tions-me­di­ated ef­fort to re­unify Cyprus, said Ni­cosia would not change its plans to drill for hy­dro­car­bons off the is­land’s coast and ap­pealed for calm in the re­gion.

Not­ing that the col­lapse of peace talks had pro­voked both “dis­ap­point­ment” and “con­cern” about Turkey’s in­ten­tions, Anas­tasi­ades said the pri­or­ity now was to “re­main calm and avoid stok­ing ten­sions.” “This ob­ses­sive de­pen­dence on Turkey is the big­gest con­cern to the Greek Cypri­ots,” he said, not­ing that Ankara had not been ready for a so­lu­tion.

Ni­cosia’s pro­pos­als dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions at the Swiss re­sort of Cran­sMon­tana, he said, had been aimed to­wards the cre­ation of a state that would be in­de­pen­dent of the in­flu­ence of Turkey and would abol­ish all for­eign guar­an­tees, he said.

The Cypriot leader also crit­i­cized the UN’s spe­cial en­voy for Cyprus, Espen Barthe Eide, for ba­si­cally be­ing de­luded and bring­ing UN chief An­to­nio Guter­res into the talks with­out ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion. “I think he was act­ing in good faith, but he had the fail­ing of be­liev­ing that what he wanted to hap­pen was hap­pen­ing,” Anas­tasi­ades said. “He had the im­pres­sion that ev­ery­thing was al­most solved,” he added. “That’s the sense he gave out and I warned him about it.”

Anas­tasi­ades did not rule out the prospects for a new at­tempt at tack­ling the Cyprus prob­lem, but in­di­cated that it would not be any time soon. “There has to be a pe­riod of in­tro­spec­tion and ra­tio­nal as­sess­ment of the facts so we can de­cide which ini­tia­tives could form the ba­sis for a new ac­ti­va­tion at the UN level,” he said.

As for drilling for hy­dro­car­bons off Cyprus, which the French-Ital­ian en­ergy con­sor­tium of To­tal and Eni started in the mid­dle of last week, Anas­tasi­ades in­di­cated that the drilling would con­tinue, de­spite Turk­ish ob­jec­tions. “Our en­ergy plans have not changed,” he said. “It is a right that is be­ing ex­er­cised by the Repub­lic of Cyprus which re­quires nei­ther advertising nor provo­ca­tion.”

Not­ing that Ankara’s dis­put­ing of the sovereignty of the Repub­lic of Cyprus and of the coun­try’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ) “are well known,” Anas­tasi­ades said Ni­cosia has taken “a se­ries of preven­tive mea­sures.” “I don’t mean com­bat­ive mea­sures, but there are le­gal mea­sures, in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and the Law of the Sea, which de­ter­mine the rights of each state,” he said.

Asked about cur­rent talks be­tween Turkey and Is­rael re­gard­ing the con­struc­tion of a pipe­line that would al­low the lat­ter to sup­ply the for­mer with gas, Anas­tasi­ades said he had raised the is­sue with the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment as the en­vis­aged pipe­line would pass through Cyprus’s EEZ. “We don’t have the right to veto but we have a se­ries of other rights, ei­ther re­lat­ing to the en­vi­ron­ment or to fur­ther plans, which stip­u­late the per­mis­sion of Cyprus,” he said.

Turkey rec­og­niz­ing the Repub­lic of Cyprus would be a step to­wards a tri­lat­eral agree­ment, he said.

Cyprus Pres­i­dent Nikos Anas­tasi­ades pays his re­spects at the graves of sol­diers killed in the July 15, 1974, Turk­ish in­va­sion of Cyprus, in Ni­cosia, on Satur­day. He called the in­va­sion ‘a day of trea­son by the mil­i­tary junta in Athens.’

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