by Aggelos Skordas
If Turkey proceeds with drilling activities within the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Cyprus may resort to the United Nations Security Council President Nicos Anastasiades warned. As Anastasiades explained in an interview with Greek public broadcaster ERT TV, Nicosia is determined to make use of all the diplomatic and political means at its disposal in order to prevent such a development.
Turkey has repeatedly expressed its intentions to proceed with drillings in parts of Cyprus’s EEZ and has even accused the Republic of Cyprus of acting unilaterally as it is not consulting the Turkish Cypriot community on the matter. Nevertheless, both the European Union and the United States have supported Cyprus’s right to exploit its natural resources. Anastasiades, who has recently assumed his duties as president of the Republic of Cyprus for a second term after being re-elected with 56 per cent of the vote, declared that the island’s energy program will continue despite the threats of Turkey.
As he characteristically said, Ankara’s behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean indicates that it intends to become a key “energy hub and the only source of supplying energy to the West […] Energy planning and methods of transporting natural gas cannot be the result of one country’s choices but the outcome of collective decisions”. The Cypriot President emphatically ruled out the possibility of joint management of the island’s natural resources with the occupied North before a solution is reached in the islands long-standing problem.
Moreover, he pointed towards the solution of the Cyprus issue as an answer to all the problems between the Republic of Cyprus and the occupied North, although the negotiations cannot restart due to Turkish claims on the island’s natural resources. The Turkish Cypriot leadership, according to President Anastasiades, is fully controlled by Ankara, while the failure of the Crans-Montana conference last July is down to Turkey’s unacceptable positions as well as on “unfortunate and hasty moves” by the representatives of the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Despite the above, Anastasiades underlined that he has already informed the Guterres that he is ready to resume on the negotiation table with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. The United Nations peacekeeping mission announced it will host an informal meeting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on Friday April 16. The meeting between Anastasiades and Akinci will be held at the residence of United Nations Chief of Mission to Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar and it will be the first since the collapse of high-level peace talks last July.