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Greek and Turkish ministers discuss Cyprus

Venizelos (L) and Davutoglu (R) in Ankara earlier this year

By Stefanos Evripidou

GREEK DEPUTY Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday met with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara as part of a one-day visit to the Turkish capital.

Venizelos, invited by Davutoglu to Ankara, discussed bilateral relations, the situation in the eastern Aegean and the Cyprus problem with the Turkish foreign minister.

Speaking after the meeting, the two ministers told reporters that their discussion was held in a very warm climate.

They both hailed the recent agreement for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to southern Europe via Greece, noting that it will create an “energy bridge” between the two countries.

The decision to send Azeri gas via TAP came as music to the ears of the under-fire Greek government, which immediately highlighted the thousands of new jobs that would be created in Greece.

Venizelos yesterday highlighted the economic and geopolitical significance of the TAP agreement.

Asked about the Cyprus problem and the appointment of a negotiator by President Nicos Anastasiades, Venizelos said “the negotiator has the institutional flexibility to make all necessary contacts”.

He added: “The Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the UN, EU and eurozone, while it is the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities that bear the weight of the negotiations.”

Meanwhile, Davutoglu emphasised the importance of Venizelos making his “first trip” abroad as foreign minister to Ankara, ignoring the fact the Greek FM made his first foreign visit last week to Cyprus to meet his counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.

Davutoglu said the two ministers exchanged views on a solution of the Cyprus problem. The Turkish FM said he will return Venizelos’ visit by going to Athens near the end of the year.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Turkish energy minister Taner Yıldız, said Turkey’s Barbaros Hayrettin seismic research vessel will make its maiden voyage to conduct seismic research around Cyprus’ occupied waters in the coming period.

He said the plan was to conduct seismic research over a large area of sea around Cyprus.

Turkey disputes Cyprus’ rights over its exclusive economic zone for two reasons, arguing that islands do not have rights to delineate an EEZ. As such, Cyprus’ EEZ overlaps with what Turkey considers its own hydrocarbon exploration rights over the Eastern Mediterranean.

It also demands that any profits from natural gas must be shared with the Turkish Cypriot community.

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