By Jean Christou
Greek Prime Minister Alexia Tsipras was quoted on Friday as saying it was important that the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros leave the sea area around Cyprus so that talks could resume.
Tsipras who is due in Cyprus on Monday on his first official visit abroad since being elected on an anti-bailout platform last Sunday, gave an interview to Turkish newspaper Sabah.
The Barbaros has been anchored off Famagusta port in the north since December 30 but earlier this week Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami said it might resume explorations soon given the continued deadlock in the Cyprus talks.
In his interview with Sabah, Tsipras was quoted as saying that Greece supported negotiations facilitated by the UN and on the basis of UN Resolutions for a “bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single administration, single citizenship and a single international identity”.
“We must actively support an increase of mutual confidence on the island,” he said. “The materialisation of this, however, is becoming much more difficult with activities such as the violation of the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone… by the Barbaros vessel which belongs to Turkey. The ship’s abandoning of the area and the leaving open of all diplomatic channels for the resumption of the negotiations is of significant importance,” Tsipras added.
As regards Greece’s relations with Turkey and whether he planned to continue détente with Athens, Tsipras said Athens had repeatedly underlined the necessity of an active and multidimensional Greek foreign policy which supported peace and stability in the region.
He said Syriza’s manifesto explicitly says that it actively supported the peaceful resolution of disputes with neighbouring countries within the framework of international law.
The Greek government would attach great importance to the development of cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the fields of economy, culture, tourism, education, migration, transportation, energy and environment, he said.
However he made it clear that the only way to take another step forward in creating confidence was respecting each other’s sovereign rights and the principle of good neighbourliness. He also made reference to the fact that in 2014, Turkish violations of Greek air space had tripled compared to 2013.
When he visits Cyprus next week, Tsipras visit would reaffirm close cooperation between Nicosia and Athens, government spokesman spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Friday.
During his visit, Tsipras, will have a private meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades followed by a meeting between the delegations of the two countries, the spokesman said.
The Greek side will also meet the political parties.
“We look forward to the visit of the new Greek Prime Minister and we are certain that through the discussion that will take place the close cooperation that exists between the two countries over the years will be demonstrated,” the spokesman said.
He said the Cyprus problem, Turkey ‘s violation of the island’s exclusive economic zone, as well as the economy would be discussed during the talks.
On Russia, he said the “overwhelming majority of the EU member states, even the large states, had the same position as Greece and Cyprus related to the approach for the solution of the problem that exists in the region.” He was referring to Greece and Cyprus’ opposition to further sanctions on Russia.