By Jean Christou
A letter sent by President Nicos Anastasiades to UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon on October 6 concerning Turkish encroachment of the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and its effects on the Cyprus talks, was circulated as an official document to the Security Council on Monday.
The letter was released early on Tuesday.
In it, Anastasiades, who pulled out the talks earlier this month, said the Turkish actions were not compatible with the smooth continuation of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem.
“They have the potential to destroy the efforts of creating a good and positive environment and to actually derail the whole negotiating process,” he said.
He said it was regrettable that the developments came at a time when Ban’s new Special Adviser on Cyprus was trying to set the necessary conditions and framework for the resumption of the talks and for substantial negotiations.
Referring to Turkey’s decision to reserve areas, including parts of Cyprus EEZ for seismic surveys, Anastasiades said the move had been the culmination of a continued provocative policy of disputing and interfering with the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone.
“This provocative policy included, apart from continued verbal threats and rhetoric, the harassment of vessels performing lawful activities authorised by the government of the Republic of Cyprus, by Turkish warships and military aircraft, and unlawful seismic surveys within the western exclusive economic zone of Cyprus by Turkish vessels,” he said.
However, he added, this was the first time Turkey decided to escalate its provocation and directly carry out a seismic survey in specific blocks, some of which have been assigned to international companies such as blocks 2, 3 and 9, within the southern part of the EEZ.
Cyprus’ EEZ was delineated in 2004 in accordance with international law, he added.
“The foregoing Turkish intentions as well as their timing give rise to grave concerns,” said Anastasiades.
“They point to the increasingly aggressive nature of Turkey’s actions in areas in the eastern Mediterranean under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus.”
The timing, in the midst of a process aiming to reunify the island, served only to undermine the process and to raise more doubts as to Turkey’s commitment to it and contributed towards the increase of the overall tension in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Anastasiades told Ban of his own commitment to the talks but said that for them to be successful all sides needed to be on board.
“Negotiating under constant threat and blackmail that undermine all efforts to create the good environment necessary for a successful outcome of the negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem is not just counterproductive. It also has a negative effect on public opinion,” he said in the letter.
Public opinion was necessary in efforts for a settlement because people needed to be convinced that confidence and trust between the sides could and should be restored.
“Unfortunately, these latest decisions and intentions of the Turkish Government do not contribute towards that aim; on the contrary, they run counter to it,” the president added.
Referring to his withdrawal from the talks, Anastasiades said the decision was taken so that the UN and friends of the Good Offices mission would have time to convince Ankara to reconsider.
He reminded Ban that during their last meeting in New York in September, that the Secretary-General had expressed his willingness to approach Turkey in order to convince Ankara to substantially contribute towards the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
He called on Ban to convince Turkey not to go ahead with its plans to carry out the surveys as it would “strike a heavy blow against the negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem”.
Turkey began its surveys on Monday. The National Council was meeting on Tuesday to finalise its response to the move and to announce measures, it said on Monday.