The full force of the opposition came down on President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday over statements he made appearing to assign the Turkish Cypriots a separate exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The government put the roasting down to electioneering and said the other parties were well aware of what he meant.
In statements on Tuesday, Anastasiades had said the country’s natural wealth belongs to all its legitimate inhabitants, including Turkish Cypriots. “I would like to hope that Turkey will understand that the peaceful drilling, currently underway, concerns the future of Cyprus and its people, all of its people, and consequently questioning our sovereign rights, simply because Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus or because it believes that the self-styled regime in occupied Cyprus actually exists, has no actual standing,” the president said.
If Turkey chooses to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots in a separate independent entity, “then it has to limit this protection to the rights of this illegal entity” and therefore it has no reason to question Cyprus’ sovereign rights, he added.
The apparent blunder in mentioning the ‘rights of the illegal entity’ in the north of the island was jumped on by all of the political parties on Wednesday.
Diko said the president’s statement was “unprecedented and dangerous” and that Anastasiades had virtually called on Turkey to violate the sovereign rights of the Republic over the entire island and establishing two separate EEZs.
“Essentially, Nicos Anastasiades is assigning the rights of the Republic to the occupied sea areas of the Republic before the Cyprus settlement,” the party said. “It is dangerous and absolutely wrong,” party leader and presidential contender Nicolas Papadopoulos said. “Mr Anastasiades has to withdraw this dangerous and incorrect statement.”
Papadopoulos’ backers, the Greens, Solidarity Movement and Edek issued similar statements, saying the president had effectively given legitimacy to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state.
Independent candidate, Citizens Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas said Anastasiades’ statements were at the very least “provocative”.
“His public positions on the EEZ and the rights of the Turkish Cypriots not only interconnects the solution of the Cyprus problem with energy, but also grants rights to a so-called EEZ to Turkish Cypriots and Turkey,” he said.
Even pro-solution Akel-backed candidate Stavros Malas, joined the fray, saying the president’s statement constituted a major political impasse.
“Let us hope that this does not mean that in the mind of the outgoing president there is a change of course from a federation towards two separate states,” he said. “This is a statement extremely dangerous and extremely unacceptable to our national issue.”
Government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides said in a brief statement that the reaction was an effort by some to create a false impression among the electorate.
“President Anastasiades in his statement reiterated what everyone knows, that Turkey invokes the alleged interests of the Turkish Cypriots to justify its illegal and provocative actions against the Republic,” he said.