Cooperation with French TOTAL opens new perspectives for Cyprus – France relations, President Anastasiades stresses
Nicosia.- (GreekNewsOnline, CNA)
There is no doubt that Cyprus’ plan on energy field and its cooperation with French energy giant TOTAL, open new perspectives for Cyprus – France relations and for the benefits of EU’s energy security, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades stressed here Friday, addressing French Embassy’s reception for celebrating French National Day.
President Anastasiades said that Cyprus and France also share important cooperation in the fields of defence and security, as well as on the struggle against terrorism. In this framework, he recalled, French-Cyprus Strategic Agenda signed in October 2016 which defines cooperation between the two countries in various fields, “so that we will be in position to effectively cope with the great challenges we face”.
President Anastasiades expressed on behalf of the Government and the people of Cyprus, gratitude for the long-standing support of France to the efforts of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem based on UN principles and EU values.
He noted that despite the fact that conclusion of the Conference on Cyprus in Swiss resort of Crans-Montana did not see the sides coming to the desired result mainly due to persistence of both Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leadership to the 1960 Guarantors system, the Government of the Republic achieved international understating on its positions.
For the first time, as he stressed, the focus of the discussion was on the core of the Cyprus problem that relates to the security of Cypriots and not to satisfying geopolitical interests of any third country.
From his part French Ambassador in Nicosia René Troccaz told the President that France has supported his courageous efforts and those of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in favour of the reunification of Cyprus, indicating that France has done so without interfering in the details of the negotiations.
“We have stood by your sides in this process. We have been doing so for 43 years at the Security Council of the United Nations. We do so also in the EU” he stressed, noting to the President that Cyprus can rely on France, be it at the United Nations or at the EU. “Our position is clear and does not change. We hope for a fair reunification based on the principles of international law, United Nations parameters and the acquis communautaire” he stressed.
He also noted that for France the Republic of Cyprus is a friend and an ally and referred to the bilateral relations’ quality, that is implemented, as he said, in every domain.
Turkey has deployed warships to Cypriot waters in the latest escalation over contested gas exploration rights.
“Turkey is determined to protect both its own rights and interests in its continental shelf and to continue its support to the Turkish Cypriot side,” said a toughly worded statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry late Thursday.
Two Turkish frigates and a submarine are reportedly monitoring the exploration ship West Capella. The ship, contracted by France’s Total and Italy’s ENI, started drilling on July 12 under an exploration license granted by the Cypriot government.
“We cannot remain indifferent to these kinds of unilateral actions,” warned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu at a press conference Thursday. “At the moment, we are planning the steps we will take with our Energy Ministry.”
U.S. Government issued a mild warning, reiterating that it recognizes the Republic of Cyprus` right to develop its resources in its EEZ, the State Department has said.
A spokesperson for the State Department said “the U.S. policy on Cyprus’s EEZ is longstanding – We recognize the Republic of Cyprus’s right to develop its resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone”.
It added that it continues “to believe the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement”. At the same time, it said “we continue to discourage actions that increase tensions in the region.”
Nicosia plays down tensions. “We are prepared for various scenarios,” said Greek Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis. “Our perception is that Turkey will continue to challenge us one way or the other,” he said, adding, “It is more appropriate to focus on what we do, and the best answer is to keep a low tone and respond, through our actions at sea.”
“Cyprus reiterates its position, that the natural resources of Cyprus belong to the Cypriot people, replying to the press release, No: 228, issued by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 13 July 2017”, it said.
The Ministry also pointed out that at this stage, a bill has been submitted for consideration before the House of Representatives, concerning the establishment of a National Investments Fund in which the revenue from hydrocarbon exploitation will be deposited “for the benefit of all Cypriots”, as stated in the draft bill.
“The drilling in plot 11 is of an exploratory nature and therefore its outcome should be of interest to the Turkish Cypriots as well, since the future exploitation of the natural resources offshore Cyprus will be of common benefit”, noted the Ministry.
It adds that any Turkish claims should be compatible with the provisions of International Law, and Turkey should act in good faith in the framework of international legality.
“International Law provides for the kinds of actions admissible in such cases, and certainly a state resorting to gunboat policy in order to impose its positions is not one of the prescribed acts”, said the Ministry.
At the same time the Ministry noted that the real reason for the fact that the recent negotiating process did not yield any result is Turkey’s continuing desire to fully control and intervene in the island whenever it deems necessary, using as a pretext the so-called interests of the Turkish Cypriots.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave unequivocal support to Nicosia this week, dismissing Turkish threats toward the Greek Cypriots.
“I remember a saying that I always keep in my mind, that the best guard dog is not the one that barks … good guard dogs don’t need to bark,” Tsipras said Thursday. “We don’t bark that much, but, I believe, we effectively defend our country’s sovereign rights.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the remarks, saying top Greek politicians should “show a responsible stance in issues regarding Turkey.”
The dispute over exploiting the island’s gas reserves threatens to embroil international energy giants. “Energy companies who involve themselves in irresponsible steps taken by the Greek Cypriot side can never be met with understanding,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the World Petroleum Conference in Istanbul.