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Anastasiades says he’s keen to restart talks, but needs signs from Turkey

Πρόεδρος Δημοκρατίας – Επίσκεψη στο στρατόπεδο «Σώτος Χατζηπροκοπίου»
President Anastasiades at the ‘Sotos Hadjiprokopiou’ army camp in Tseri

President Nicos Anastasiades wants to see a new Cyprus initiative from the EU, the US and the UN and said he had already told this to US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland when she visited the island earlier this month, he said on Wednesday.

Anastasiades was speaking to the media after an Easter visit to address national guardsmen at the ‘Sotos Hadjiprokopiou’ army camp in Tseri.

Asked if the Greek Cypriot side expected someone to signal the start of a new Cyprus process under the shadow of international developments due to the war in Ukraine, he said: “I have the impression that the Ukrainian crisis is an opportunity for Europe, the Americans, but also the United Nations to create conditions for resolving outstanding problems related to the causes of the Ukrainian war.”

It was well known, he added, that the EU was looking for alternative energy sources and these sources were available in the Levantine basin and in the Eastern Mediterranean, either through Israeli, Egyptian or Cypriot deposits.

Therefore, he said, there was an opportunity, especially if Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meant what he said on Tuesday about seeking peace in the region “if it was not said just to created impressions”.

“It is now even more urgent to see an initiative from the EU and the UN but also from the United States, which says it would like to see Turkey involved in the Mediterranean,” Anastasiades said.

The first would be for Turkey to delimit its exclusive economic zone with the Republic of Cyprus.

The second would be a Cyprus solution provided that it would result in a functioning federal state, free of guarantors and “consequently a dependence on the influences of third countries”.

The solution must also be based on UN and EU principles and values for the benefit of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. If Turkey realises this, many of the problems that currently exist in Turkey-EU relations would be resolved.

He said however that there were no such positive signs from Ankara.

“On the contrary, what has been said to us, despite what the president of Turkey said yesterday [Tuesday], is that until the Turkish elections there is no intention on their part to take any initiative to resolve the Cyprus issue,” Anastasiades said.

“Yesterday I heard the Turkish president say that he seeks peace in the region and a solution to the Cyprus problem. If this is indeed his wish, we have proved in practice that the dialogue and our positive suggestions, which do not ignore the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots but also of the Greek Cypriots would be a given.”

Asked about Turkey’s renewal of its friendly relations with other countries in the region, mostly notably Israel, and how that might affect any ‘pipeline map’ that would exclude Cyprus, Anastasiades said the ongoing trilateral partnerships that Cyprus has cultivated with other countries in the region “prevents such phenomena”.

He said he had it in mind to raise his proposal that Cyprus talks be restarted by the UN, EU and the US, during the March European Council meeting but the idea was overtaken by events in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, priorities were reversed,” he said.

“However I have informed both the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, the high representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Nuland during her recent visit to Cyprus.”

In his address to the national guardsmen, Anastasiades said that the current catastrophic events in Ukraine indicate that the Cyprus National Guard should be strengthened “in a way that effectively defends the territorial integrity, independence and integrity of our homeland”.

“Both [Cypriot] communities have concerns but they can easily be overcome if Turkey finally understands that it is time to end interventions within an independent, sovereign state that is a member of the UN and part of the EU.”

 

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