Turkey’s reaction over Cyprus’ third hydrocarbon exploration licensing round could not affect the reunification talks, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday, but it would be a different story if Ankara prevented the Republic from exercising its sovereign rights.
Speaking after a five-hour meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Anastasiades said he did not think Turkey’s reaction could affect the talks in any way.
It would be different however, if Ankara carried out provocations inside the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“This is completely different,” he told reporters. “If, that is, the Republic’s right is disputed through certain actions seen as obstructing its sovereign right, I think I have demonstrated how the Republic reacts.”
In response to the official announcement of the third licensing round, on Friday night the Turkish foreign ministry said the “Greek Cypriot administration” was challenging the right of Turks on the island at a time when the two sides were negotiating reunification.
“The Greek administration’s decision to open a tender on the one hand disregards the Turkish Cypriot side’s equal rights and interests on the island’s natural resources and on the other hand violates our country’s continental shelf rights in the region,” the statement said.
The ministry said Turkey would not allow foreign companies to explore for hydrocarbons and would take all necessary measures to protect the rights and interests of its continental shelf.
In October, 2014, Anastasiades suspended his participation in the talks after Turkey dispatched a research vessel to carry out seismic surveys inside the Republic’s EEZ.
Repeated calls for the withdrawal of the Barbaros went unheeded by Ankara, which later announced extension of the surveys until April 6, 2015.
Talks resumed in May last year following Akinci’s victory over hardliner Dervis Eroglu.
Akinci raised the matter of the third round, according to Anastasiades, but it remained unanswered because it concerned the Republic’s sovereign rights.
Anastasiades has said that the island’s natural resources belonged to all its lawful inhabitants but Turkish Cypriots would have a say after a settlement of the country’s division.
Anastasiades was also asked to comment on remarks by Turkey`s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir, who said, among others, that the five chapters, frozen by Nicosia in 2009, would be opened for Turkey in the second half of 2016. The president made clear that the rights of the Republic of Cyprus were “a fact” and could not be taken away “whatever Mr Bozkir says or anybody else wants to promise”.
On Monday, the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues where there was understanding between the two sides, to determine how they could be turned into convergences.
Anastasiades said there were still problems, even in matters where there was understanding, which the leaders would try to resolve during the next meeting.
The president noted that the problems did not concern the basic principles of a settlement where “I can say that certain important matters have been clarified.”
“There are individual issues however, where differences seem to persist. That is why I spoke of understanding and not convergences,” he said, declining to elaborate further.
The leaders are to meet again no April 18 and 25 and on May 9.
Akinci meanwhile sets off next month for a round of contacts in Berlin, London and Istanbul.
Reports from the north said Akinci would first travel to Istanbul between April 6-7 at the invitation of the Institute for Social Research and Strategy in Marmara to participate in the 18th Eurasian Economic Summit.
He is due in Berlin between April 11 and 13, at the invitation of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Turkish Cypriot leader will then be back in Istanbul from April 14-16 for the 13th Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
At the end of April, possibly mid May Akinci will travel to London at the invitation of British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. The exact date and programme of the visit to London will be announced later, the reports said.