Nicosia.- By Maria Myles/CNA
The Republic of Cyprus is taking all the necessary steps to table the coordinates relating to the rest of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), for which the said coordinates have not been tabled, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said, adding that the decision to do so will be taken, taking into account Turkey’s provocations.
Speaking to CNA, the Minister also said that there is a contradiction in Ankara’s positions with regard to Cyprus’ EEZ, in that it does not recognize Nicosia’s right to have an EEZ and yet it says that it is acting to serve the interests of the Turkish Cypriots in an EEZ, which it claims it does not exist.
On this week’s official visit by President Nicos Anastasiades to Saudi Arabia in relation to the Cyprus problem, Kasoulides said King Salman is moving in the framework defined by international law and order and UN resolutions, adding that Turkey no longer has an easy ride within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Invited to comment on criticism from the opposition of remarks by President Anastasiades about EEZ in connection with the Turkish Cypriots, Kasoulides noted that the Foreign Ministry is working very hard to exercise, whenever it is called to do so, the right of the Republic of Cyprus to table coordinates for the whole of Cyprus.”
This, he said, has been the policy of the current government, and consequently there can be no doubt as to President Anastasiades’ policy and position on the matter of Cyprus’ EEZ.
The President, replying to press questions, said earlier this week that Turkey must understand that the drilling, currently underway, concerns the future of Cyprus and its people, all of its people. Consequently, he said, “questioning our sovereign rights, simply because Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus or because it believes that the self-styled regime in occupied Cyprus actually exists, has no actual standing.”
If Turkey chooses to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots in a separate independent entity, then it has to limit this protection to the rights of this illegal entity and therefore it has no reason to question Cyprus’ sovereign rights, he added. This, however, is a theory that concerns only Turkey, not Cyprus, Anastasiades stressed.
In his statements to CNA, the Minister said that in addition to this, there is a contradiction in Turkey’s positions and this must be highlighted.
“On the one hand Ankara refuses to recognize Nicosia’s right to have an EEZ and claims that the Republic’s EEZ belongs either to Turkey or Egypt and on the other Turkey says it is acting to serve the interests of the Turkish Cypriots in an EEZ which it claims does not exist. This is a contradiction in terms,” he said.
Turkey, whose troops invaded and occupy Cyprus’ northern part since 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, in spite of repeated calls by the international community to do so. The Turkish Cypriots declared a UDI in the occupied areas. The UN has called on all states not to recognize or facilitate this regime, and described the UDI as “legally invalid.”
Replying to a question about the position of the international community on the issue of Cyprus’ EEZ, he noted that the Law of the Sea convention defines clearly how relations between states are governed as far as each nation’s EEZ is concerned.
He recalled that Turkey has not signed the convention and recently was the only state that voted against the obligations of states in this regard.
“It is obvious to everybody that Turkey is acting in an arbitrary manner, by virtue of its strength in the region,” Kasoulides said, adding that once a state tables the coordinates at the UN, either through an agreement with another state bordering the median line or in another manner, things proceed.
Things with regard to the rest of Cyprus’ EEZ must start at some point, whether Turkey agrees or not, he said.
Asked about action taken towards this direction, the Minister referred to various moves already made in the past several months, in consultation with Greece, in that the issue concerns Athens too.
“As I have already stated, we have not relinquished our right to table the coordinates of the rest of our EEZ, for which we have not done so to date. Preparations are in their final stages and our decision on the timing of this move will be taken depending on Turkish provocation, in particular with regard to the new drilling rig Ankara has bought and which it threatens to use,” Kasoulides told CNA.
The Minister was also asked to comment on the significance and the outcome of the visit to Saudi Arabia and noted that it was very successful and the targets set with regard to enhancing bilateral ties have been met.
Saudi Arabia, he explained, is a leading nation in the Arab and the Moslem world and regional developments have brought about a shift in the objectives and ambitions of the countries of this region.
One of these, he continued, is the cooperation among all moderate states which share similar thinking regarding the fight against terrorism. Saudi Arabia is also facing threats, just as other states in the region do, he added.
“I am sure that our regional policy has not gone unnoticed by Saudi Arabia. Hence its initiative to invite the President of the Republic for an official visit. This is an historic move, as far as we are concerned,” the Minister pointed out.
He recalled that Saudi Arabia had established an embassy in Cyprus in the early 1960s, after Cyprus gained its independence from British colonial rule, but closed it following intercommunal fighting in 1963. For years, on the Cyprus problem Riyadh was following policies in consultation with Turkey, he noted.
“Things have changed. In 2015 SA’s Ambassador to Greece was also accredited to Cyprus and we opened an embassy in Riyadh. We have assurances that there will be more upgrading in this regard but I do not wish to elaborate further on the matter,” he said.
The path for cooperation in the economic, energy, transport and tourism is wide open, he said, recalling that the competent Cypriot Ministers who accompanied the President on his visit met in Riyadh with their Saudi Arabian counterparts and the results of these encounters will begin to emerge soon.
This marks progress in bilateral relations, as seen with regard to Cyprus’ ties with Egypt, Jordan and Israel, he said.
Replying to another question about Riyadh’s position on the Cyprus question and efforts to find a negotiated settlement, he said that there has been a change in the position Saudi Arabia adopts at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
“Turkey no longer has an easy ride within the Organisation. Many countries have opposed Turkish designs, as expressed in the Organisation, with Egypt and the UAE leading the way,” the Minister added.
In this respect, he explained, the limits within which they operate is “respect of international law and order and UN resolutions and this is the position King Salman has outlined to us in Riyadh.”
“It does not look as if they would be taking a stance on the Cyprus problem. Nonetheless, this is the framework within which they will operate,” he concluded.