by Aggelos Skordas
One day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made provocative remarks from London that the security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean will be under continuous threat if the Republic of Cyprus continues conducting hydrocarbon activities, Nicosia issued a response on Tuesday. According to the Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, the Republic of Cyprus will proceed with its energy plans within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) having the international community -including the Council of Europe, the US and Russia- on its side.
“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 threatened on Monday while addressing the Chatham House think tank in London.
“What is certain is that the Republic of Cyprus has international legality on its side and the support of the international community and of course it will continue to exercise its sovereign rights in cooperation with neighboring countries with which we have agreements, but also with European Union member states”, Prodromou characteristically said, adding that the island’s plans are in line with International Law. As he stressed, the continuous Turkish provocations have been answered by the European bodies that have warned Ankara to avoid illegal interventions that could increase tensions in an already fragile regional environment.
Moreover, referring to Erdogan’s accusations that the Republic of Cyprus is creating obstacles towards a solution on the island’s longstanding issue, Prodromou called on Turkey to return to the reunification negotiations: “Turkey can really contribute by accepting the parameters set by the United Nations Secretary General for the abolition of guarantees and withdrawal of the army, to achieve a solution of the Cyprus problem and truly have conditions without tensions.”
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 he avoided specifying the location of the future Turkish operations.
In February, the Turkish Navy prevented Italian ships from energy company ENI from their planned drilling activities inside Cyprus’ EEZ, with the pretext it was acting in defense of the Turkish Cypriot community.
United Nations-backed negotiations towards a settlement for the Cyprus Issue collapsed mainly due to Ankara’s refusal to remove its troops stationed in 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 to the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus.