President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday rubbished suggestions he favoured partition of the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), questioning who stood to gain from revisiting such an “unfounded claim”.
The issue emerged during Thursday’s TV debate between the leaders of ruling Disy Averof Neophytou and main opposition Akel Andros Kyprianou.
Kyprianou accused the president of proposing the partition of the EEZ, kicking off a war of words that continued on Friday.
“Everyone should wonder which expediency is served and who really benefits by regurgitating the unfounded claim regarding supposed thoughts of mine to partition the Cypriot EEZ at a time when Turkish drills and warships act as modern pirates,” Anastasiades said in a written statement.
The president listed a number of initiatives and “battles” he had given to defend the island’s sea rights, including submission to the UN of EEZ coordinates north and west.
“On my initiative, we had also invited Turkey to a dialogue repeatedly on delimitating an EEZ between us and in case of disagreement to jointly seek recourse at the International Court,” the president said.
“The same people who criticise me today over supposedly pondering two EEZs, are the same people who criticise me for saying we have safeguarded our EEZ politically and legally,” he said.
Anastasiades said he knew well that these actions could not prevent Turkey, nor did they solve the Cyprus problem.
“But they bolster our statehood, deepen our bonds with neighbouring states, and create conditions that make our country useful in long-term international and European energy plans.”
Kyprianou issued a response later in the day, which included a quote by the president in January 2018, and challenging him to say how it was distorted.
“If they choose to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots in a separate, independent entity, then they must restrict themselves to what is inside the exclusive economic zone of the particular illegal entity,” the president was quoted as saying. “Consequently, they have no reason to dispute the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus.
“Every effort by M. Anastasiades to blame Akel for misrepresenting his statements is an insult to himself and the institution he serves,” Kyprianou said.
As regards the rest of the president’s statement, Kyprianou said the result of his handlings fell far short of the long-term objectives the Greek Cypriot side had set.