by Aggelos Skordas
Intensifying the provocative rhetoric ahead of the upcoming Turkish elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that the Eastern Mediterranean will face a sustained security threat if Cyprus continues unilateral operations. Specifically, referring to Cyprus’ hydrocarbons explorations within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Erdogan said that “if the Greek Cypriot side insists on continuing its unilateral hydrocarbon activities in Eastern Mediterranean, security and stability in the area will be continuously in danger. I am saying this openly and clearly”.
Erdogan, on an official visit to Britain, made the comment in a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London, blaming the Republic of Cyprus for not approaching the Turkish Cypriot side for the establishment of a partnership and for the collapse of the United Nations-backed talks in Crans Montana, Switzerland, in 2017. “It did not come closer to establishing a cooperative governing arrangement based on equality with the Turkish Cypriots […] The Turkish Cypriots side, with the strong support of Turkey, over the last half century has exerted constant efforts towards a solution”, the Turkish President was quoted as saying.
According to Cyprus News Agency, Ankara was reluctant to give the green light for the arrival of Jane Holl Lute in Cyprus, as the United Nations Secretary General’s personal envoy to probe the potential resumption of settlement talks, causing frustration for the United Nations on Monday. Greece and Great Britain already gave their go-ahead for the mission, as Lute is expected to hold contacts with the two communities and the three guarantor powers. The same source said that Ankara is not willing to make such a move before the June 24 early elections.
On Friday, Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Bayrak announced that his country is ready to conduct its own oil and gas drillings in the Mediterranean. Although Bayrak avoided to specify the location of the future Turkish operations.
United Nations-backed negotiations towards a settlement for the Cyprus Issue collapsed mainly due to Ankara’s refusal to remove its troops stationed on the island as well as to abolish the so called Treaty of Guaranty, which in 1974 gave it the pretext to a brutal invasion that resulted in the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus.