Turkey crit­i­cises Cyprus-Is­rael mar­itime ac­cord

The Pak Banker - - International -

ANKARA: Turkey has slammed a mar­itime border ac­cord be­tween Cyprus and Is­rael, say­ing it was "null and void" be­cause it dis­re­gards the rights and ju­ris­dic­tion of Turk­ish Cypri­ots on the is­land.

The agree­ment, signed last week, was aimed at fa­cil­i­tat­ing the search for min­eral de­posits in the east Mediter­ranean, where huge nat­u­ral gas re­serves have been dis­cov­ered by a U.S. firm. Turkey's For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment it has no claims on the ar­eas sub­ject to the agree­ment, but "Turk­ish Cypri­ots have also rights and ju­ris­dic­tion over the mar­itime ar­eas of the is­land of Cyprus." It said the Greek Cypriot govern­ment should not uni­lat­er­ally sign in­ter­na­tional agree­ments with­out a so­lu­tion to the di­vi­sion of the is­land.

Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turk­ish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey in­vaded in re­sponse to a coup by sup­port­ers of a union with Greece. The is­land joined the Euro­pean Union in 2004, but only the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized south en­joys mem­ber­ship ben­e­fits. Turkey only rec­og­nizes the break­away north where it main­tains 35,000 troops.

Talks aimed at re­uni­fy­ing the is­land have pro­duced only limited progress since they be­gan more than two years ago. The Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry state­ment said coun­tries in the re­gions should not back moves "that would have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions" and that "agree­ments signed by the Greek Cypri­ots with coun­tries of the re­gion are null and void for Turkey."

A spokesman for the Greek Cypriot govern­ment, Ste­fanos Ste­fanou, had no com­ment on the Turk­ish state­ment on Tues­day, say­ing he had not seen it. But asked Mon­day on me­dia re­ports re­fer­ring to Turk­ish ob­jec­tions, he said no other coun­try has the right to in­ter­fere in Cyprus' af­fairs.

Turkey does not rec­og­nize the Greek Cypriot govern­ment as rep­re­sent­ing the en­tire is­land and its ties with Is­rael have been strained over a deadly Is­raeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May. Turkey stated that it "does not have any claim re­gard­ing the mar­itime ar­eas," sub­ject to the de­mar­ca­tion agree­ment. Cyprus has li­censed Noble En­ergy to ex­plore an 800,000-acre area bor­der­ing Is­raeli wa­ters where mas­sive gas fields have been found un­der the seabed. -Ap

MINSK: Relatives of peo­ple de­tained in Sun­day's Be­larus op­po­si­tion protest gather out­side the prison walls in Minsk, Be­larus. -Ap

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