Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Turkey declares will for solution

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (right) talks with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Athens on Saturday

By Angelos Anastasiades

TURKEY has the will to resume talks and reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem “very soon”, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Saturday, adding that he “fully appreciates” President Nicos Anastasiades’ decision to suspend his participation in the peace talks last October, after Turkey despatched its seismic vessel Barbaros into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

He was speaking at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, after the conclusion of the third annual Greek-Turkish high-level cooperation council.

Despite avoiding any mention of the reason for Anastasiades’ withdrawal from the talks, Davutoglu linked the “desired settlement of the Cyprus problem” with energy cooperation between Greece and Turkey.

“Turkey’s will is to resume peace talks as soon as possible so that a settlement of the Cyprus problem can coincide with a settlement of the energy issues,” said Davutoglu.

The Turkish Premier noted that during talks with the Greek government in Athens, it was “accepted that both communities in Cyprus have a right to its energy sources, and unilateral action is best avoided.”

The joint communiqué issued by the two prime ministers on Saturday made no mention of Cyprus or the Cyprus problem, but declared that “Greece and Turkey aim to further strengthen their bilateral and regional cooperation in the field of energy.”

But in his own address after the summit, Samaras spoke of Greece’s “significant disagreements with Turkey”, stressing those relating to the Cyprus problem.

He added that in resolving these disputes, there must be “full respect of international law”, with the self-evident “respect to countries’ sovereign rights”.

Samaras said he fully supports the Cyprus government’s efforts to promote a settlement “under these circumstances” and under the auspices of the United Nations.

On Friday, Davutoglu called on Greece to help “solve together” the Cyprus problem, thereby strengthening trade relations between the two countries and exploiting energy reserves in the Aegean and South-eastern Mediterranean.

Earlier, Davutoglu, in Athens on a two-day visit, was informed by Samaras on the condition of President Nicos Anastasiades’ health following his operation on Tuesday.

“I wish Mr Anastasiades all the best in his health, so that we can work together for Cyprus’ health,” Davutoglu grinned to an audience of Greek and Turkish businessmen attending an annual Greek-Turkish business forum.

Meanwhile, according to Turkish press reports, the Greek and Turkish premiers agreed on the need to work towards establishing a formula for the resumption of peace talks on the Cyprus problem.

Hurriyet reported on Saturday that the two agreed to delegate the task to their respective foreign ministers.

Sources cited by the Turkish daily said that the two sides will attempt to utilise the three-month hiatus in exploratory drilling in Cyprus waters after the current session is over – by December 25, at which time the Barbaros will return to Turkey – in order to agree on a plan to resume talks.

In another report, Sabah cited sources claiming that the Cyprus government will prepare a bill formalising the sharing of natural gas revenues between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

But Acting President Yiannakis Omirou rejected any such compromise.

“There is no chance of a formula for compromise on the issue of hydrocarbons, as it would lead to the waiving of Cyprus’ sovereign rights to its exclusive economic zone,” Omirou said on Saturday.

“Any agreement of so-called co-management or distribution would lead to the recognition of the illegal breakaway regime of the occupied areas, in violation of clear provisions of Security Council resolutions,” he added.

During his visit to Athens, Omirou said, Davutoglu will receive “powerful messages” from Greek President Karolos Papoulias, the prime minister and vice-president of the Greek government that Turkey will have to comply with the United Nations’ 1982 convention of the law of the sea, and that before the peace talks can resume it will have to depart from Cyprus’ EEZ.

 

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