By Jean Christou
WHETHER or not the Cyprus talks resume if and when the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros leaves the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) will depend how permanent its departure will be, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said yesterday.
Kasoulides was speaking at a news conference to discuss the recent Greco-Turkish meeting, preparations for the upcoming EU Council meeting and Cyprus’ role in helping to combat the Islamic State.
The Barbaros issued a NAVTEX from October 20 to December 30 and has been prowling the EEZ for almost two months.
“We will know by what transpires if it is a temporary situation or if certain conditions will make it permanent,” Kasoulides said of the vessel’s slated departure.
“We will be guided by our own positions, not by Turkish propaganda, nor supposed leaks in the Turkish press, nor the statements of the Turkish leaders. We cannot build scenarios with hearsay,” he added.
Kasoulides said that although President Nicos Anastasiades pulled out of the Cyprus negotiations over the violation, in reality, the dialogue on a settlement never stopped.
“We just suspended our presence while there was blackmail and threats,” he said.
Cyprus, he said, had passed in writing its positions to Turkey through Greece and was awaiting a response.
“There is no script,” said Kasoulides. “Please respect the fact that the President of the Republic is in the process of recovery and is therefore not currently in a position to handle any issue.”
He said that Nicosia trusted Athens to handle the issue for now as it had been the only country from all of the intermediaries which had added their two cents worth that Cyprus could fully trust.
“Turkey has the force of arms and does not hesitate to use them to address every obstacle. We have the strength of institutions… whether it is the European Union or whether it is the Council of Europe,” he added.
Kasoulides reiterated the government position that “revenues from hydrocarbons belong to all Cypriots and would be fairly distributed to all Cypriots after the solution of the Cyprus problem.”
Asked about the recent Russian-Turkish agreement on energy issues, Kasoulides said this was the concern of Brussels.
“I respect the choices of Russia, and I respect Turkey’s options regarding the desire to become a hub,” he said, adding however that Cyprus’ gas would not be one of them.
Cyprus was not against Turkey’s EU accession but that was still some way down the line, Kasoulides said.
“In the next five years, there will not be any enlargement but even if this was not the policy of the Commission, Turkey would not enter the EU. The prospect of Turkey’s accession, if it ever occurs, will be in the distant future. Our position has not changed: I would like to see a Turkey that complies with all its obligations towards the EU,” he said.