THE US has been deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intention to begin drilling in the waters off Cyprus and we have urged the Turkish authorities to halt these operations, US Ambassador in Cyprus Judith Garber said on Thursday evening.
She was speaking during the Independence Day reception hosted at the US Embassy in Nicosia, in the presence of President Nicos Anastasiades and US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer.
Garber noted that the United States recognises the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone. “We also believe these resources should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement. It is our earnest hope that such resources will soon benefit a united Cyprus,” she added.
The US Ambassador said that the discovery of hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ EEZ offers great promise. We hope such resources promote prosperity in the entire Eastern Mediterranean and help to diversify Europe’s energy supply, she added.
On his part, Anastasiades expressed in his address the deep appreciation of Cyprus to the US government for the firm stance “on this crucial matter through opposing to Turkey’s illegal drilling plans and fully supporting the unhindered exercise by the Republic of its sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural resources.” He also expressed his sincere appreciation for the principled stance of the US government on the Cyprus problem and the unwavering support in reaching a lasting and comprehensive settlement.
Ties between Cyprus and the US have grown ever stronger in recent years, and Nicosia looks forward to an even more robust partnership in the future, Anastasiades said.
“During these past few years the relationship between Cyprus and the US has significantly strengthened, both at the bilateral and multilateral level, particularly through our joint commitment and close co-operation, amongst others, in the fight against terrorism, human trafficking, illegal drugs trafficking and the proliferation of weapons,” Anastasiades said.
The president highlighted the involvement of American energy companies, ExxonMobil and Noble Energy, in Cyprus saying it “does not only mark a new chapter in our bilateral relations, but it is also a tangible sign of trust to the reliable role we have assumed in our volatile neighbourhood.”
Anastasiades referred to the participation of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the trilateral summit of Cyprus, Greece and Israel held in in March, during which, he said, it was agreed “to increase regional cooperation, support energy independence and security.
“This strongly reflects our enhanced partnership, particularly in the fields of energy and regional security.”
Considering the “strategic depth” of the partnership between the two nations, Anastasiades stated, there was room for further advancing it in areas such as: updating the 1984 Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation; Cyprus joining the Visa Waiver Programme; and revoking the US embargo on the sale of military and defence related equipment to Cyprus.
The president brought up Turkey’s disregarding of international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, saying Ankara’s conduct constitutes a threat to peace and stability to the region.
“At the same time, it should be stressed that such actions also negatively affect our joint vision of establishing, together with neighbouring countries, a strategic energy corridor from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.”
He stressed his commitment to immediately engaging in reunification talks, “provided Turkey terminates its acts which violate the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, so as to allow negotiations to resume on the basis of good will, with the aim of a reaching a viable and functional settlement.”
Alluding to recent incidents in the buffer zone, the president said it was “vital” that UNFICYP’s mandate remain unaltered.