Cyprus Mail

Nicosia will not remain idle in face of Turkish provocations

Nicosia shall not remain idle in the face of possible Turkish provocations within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), president Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday.

“We shall not sit idly by should Turkey engage in new provocations in our EEZ,” Anastasiades told CyBC in an exclusive interview with the public broadcaster.

“We have a series of measures in mind. I will not specify. Naturally we do not mean warfare. But there are international organisations [we could turn to] which exist for this very purpose.”

Asked whether Turkish provocations at sea would impact the trajectory of potential new peace talks, the president replied: “Of course.”

Anastasiades was alluding to the possibility of a fresh standoff at sea between the Turkish navy and companies contracted by Cyprus to drill for natural gas off the island’s coast.

Back in February, Turkish warships – operating on the pretext of drills in international waters – prevented a drillship from reaching its destination in offshore block 3.

The standoff lasted for two weeks, after which the drillship retreated.

The next major activity in Cyprus’ economic maritime waters is scheduled for this autumn, when US energy giant ExxonMobil intends to drill two back-to-back wells in block 10.

Anastasiades was asked about the upcoming visit to Cyprus of new UN envoy Jane Holl Lute.

He confirmed that Lute would be on the island on July 23.

Lute, recently appointed by the UN Secretary General, will be sounding out the prospects of a resumption in reunification talks, now stalled for a year.

Anastasiades reiterated the Greek Cypriot position, namely that the process should pick up where it left off in Switzerland in July 2017, where a multilateral conference ended in impasse.

The starting point now, he said, should be the six parameters laid out by UNSG Antonio Guterres. These included the abolition of guarantees and their replacement by a new security system for the island, and the scrapping of the right of unilateral intervention in Cyprus by the guarantor powers.

After Nicosia, Lute is then expected to visit Ankara, Athens and London.

Lute, formerly US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 through 2013, previously served as United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.

On the meeting between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, taking place on Thursday, Anastasiades said it would revolve around the issue of guarantees for Cyprus and the need for Turkish troops to pull out of the island.

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