In an interview with Le Figaro newspaper yesterday, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said that his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, is a ray of hope to save EU principles and values who also defends international law.
When asked by the French newspaper what he expects from the upcoming European Summit that was postponed to October 1, the Cypriot president said "diplomatic and political solutions to the Turkish issue."
"For quite some time now, Turkey has been trying to impose its illegal claims on the Eastern Mediterranean by violating the Greek maritime space and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus. We are witnessing an expansionist policy of Turkey throughout the region, up to Syria and Libya. Especially in recent weeks, when a major incident between Greek and Turkish ships was averted at the last minute," he said.
"After pressure and a month later, the Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis, which violated Greek and Cypriot sovereignty, withdrew to make room for dialogue," said the Cypriot president, adding: "Let us be clear now, Turkey's challenges are, in fact, an invasion of the Cypriot EEZ. That is why, at the informal meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Berlin, we all reached an agreement to extend some of the existing sanctions against Turkey, because we want to send a clear message: that its conduct cannot go unanswered and without consequences. We will respond with deeds, not just words."
The Cypriot president then highlighted that "Turkey has become a troublemaker in the region" that is "endangering security and peace, as well as the EU."
Anastasiades then did not hide away from the fact that the EU has been indifferent to Turkish aggression against Greece and Cyprus, before praising the principled position of Macron.
"I regret to note that the EU has not acted unitedly and decisively in tackling this situation. The position of France, of President Macron, was the most decisive, as it showed a clear and strong determination against the illegal methods of Turkey. We are grateful to him, he is a ray of hope to save the principles and values of the European Union and to defend international law," he said.
When asked whether Cyprus vetoed sanctions against Belarus, the Cypriot president emphasized that he was in fact supportive of sanctions against the Eastern European non-EU country.
"On the contrary! Cyprus is in favor of sanctions against Belarus, and in fact we have proposed stricter sectoral sanctions against Belarus. We insist that there can be no selective sensitivity to violations of international law or human rights. We do not want double standards in the European family," he said.
The Cypriot president then told the French newspaper that Cyprus supports the intention of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres to convene a new conference on the reunification of Cyprus, "but that "Unfortunately, Turkey rejects it."
When asked about Turkey's intentions to move forward with the opening of Varosha in Famagusta, a Cypriot ghost town guarded by the occupying Turkish army since its illegal invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974, the Cypriot president revealed that he has been in regular contact with the United Nations Secretary-General about this issue.
"We have reported it to both the European Union and the United Nations. Personally, I have spoken several times with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I want to hope that the United Nations Security Council, as the Secretary-General himself assured me in his letter, is monitoring the situation and preventing the violation of international resolutions on the city of Famagusta. I also intend to put this issue on the table at the forthcoming European Summit."