France’s position on the Cyprus problem is consistent with international law, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday following talks with his French counterpart in Paris.
Speaking to the press after a one hour-long meeting with his host, French President Francois Hollande, Anastasiades said they discussed bilateral relations, Syria and the Cyprus issue.
Calling the meeting a productive one, Anastasiades said: “We focused on the current situation in the Cyprus problem, on the efforts being exerted and which will be exerted, so that we may achieve, if possible, our objective.
“That is to say, a solution that is acceptable to all the people of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish Cypriots and, although this may sound optimistic, why not before the end of 2016.”
Turkey’s stance in the ongoing peace talks would be crucial, he added, evidently alluding to Ankara’s role on the issue of security and guarantees in a future reunited island.
Responding to a journalist’s observation that France’s position toward Turkey appears tougher compared to that of other EU nations, Anastasiades said:
“France’s stance is completely in line with international law, France is neither for nor against Turkey, but simply for international legitimacy.”
Asked whether he and Hollande discussed French multinational Total’s interest in Cyprus’ hydrocarbon reserves, the president said no.
Total is bidding for exploration rights to offshore blocks 6 and 10 in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
Anastasiades said that because the licensing round is bound by strict EU transparency rules, it would be wrong for the French president to try and influence the outcome, which he did not.
However, at a separate meeting earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides – also in Paris accompanying Anastasiades – did discuss energy issues with Total officials.
Anastasiades revealed also that Total’s CEO would be visiting Cyprus in the near future.
In other comments, Anastasiades expressed grief at the passing of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres, announcing that he would be attending the funeral in Israel on Friday.
Media here are reporting that the president is essentially on a tour of European nations, seeking to drum up support for Nicosia’s position on the issue of security and guarantees.
A day earlier, Anastasiades had met with Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. The two discussed the Cyprus problem at length.
Britain is one of the island’s three guarantor powers, the other two being Greece and Turkey.
May reportedly conveyed to Anastasiades that her government is not seeking the role of guarantor power, and is ready to play any role that the two sides in Cyprus agree to.
Meanwhile daily Phileleftheros has reported that Ankara is insisting that 10,000 Turkish troops should remain stationed on the island post-settlement as part of the security issue.
The Turkish position, according to the paper, was relayed to Anastasiades by US Vice-President Joe Biden during a meeting they had last week.
Anastasiades is said to have told Biden that neither he nor Greek Cypriots can accept such an arrangement.
Nicosia is adamant that securities be abolished and that all Turkish troops must withdraw as part of a settlement agreement.