Greek Foreign Minister Venizelos meets with Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu in Ankara; he urges Turkey to respect Cyprus EEZ. Eide’s statements remain controversial.
Ankara (ANA-MPA/A. Abatzis) – Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos met on Saturday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, prior to a meeting in Istanbul with Turkish President of the Republic Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which haven’t produce any positive results either.
Venizelos’ visit with Cavusoglu precedes the meeting of the Greek-Turkish Supreme Council of Cooperation, scheduled to take place in Athens on December 5 and 6.
Venizelos said that the Cyprus issue talks were interrupted because of “an ongoing violation of the Cyprus Republic’s sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean,” while Cavusoglu said the trilateral agreements Greece has reached with Cyprus and Egypt on one hand and Cyprus and Israel on the other “escalate the tension”; this issue would be discussed at the Cooperation Council, he noted.
To the trilateral agreements, Cavusoglu said, “Greece is an independent country and we cannot object to the talks and its cooperation with other countries. However, there cannot be any valid restriction in the eastern Mediterranean in which Turkey is not included. These things escalate the tension. The goodwill must continue. These are issues that will be discussed during the meetings of the Supreme Council of Cooperation in Athens on December 5 and 6.”
Venizelos responded, “Our proposal is a given, that Turkey participates on the basis of respect for the international law of the sea.” Later in the press conference, the Greek FM said, “There is no doubt that all the rights and expectations of all Cypriot citizens from natural wealth should be guaranteed. According to the constitution of 1960, this relates to the federated state. However, there is not doubt that the state of Cyprus that will be a single one and member of the UN and EU has sovereignty and sovereign rights. The constitution will guarantee the rights from revenues for both entities participating in the federated state. But the violation of sovereign rights and of the international sea law must end.”
Speaking on the Cyprus issue, Cavusoglu said, “The solution of the issue would not just benefit Turkey, Greece and the two peoples on Cyprus, but will also contribute to the stability and security of the greater area… Following the tension created by the oil research, the Greek Cypriot side withdrew from talks. We wish the restart of talks.” He added that “everyone recognises the fact” that the people [of the self-styled state of northern Cyprus] “have rights over natural gas and oil in the area. What is needed is an agreement that guarantees the rights of both sides.”
Cavusoglu also spoke about economic cooperation between Greece and Turkey, saying that trade between the two was worth 5.7 billion dollars annually, which should be increased to 10 billion dollars. He also noted that by the end of 2014 it is expected that a total of 1 million Turkish nationals will have visited Greece this year, while that of Greek nationals visiting Turkey will have reached 700,000.
“A solution to the Cyprus issue will allow us to underatke many more initiatives in the sectors of economy, energy and foreign policy,” Venizelos stressed. The ministers also discussed issues of illegal immigration, fighting terrorism, and Islamic militants, with Venizelos noting, “We know how critical Turkey’s role is against the threat of the so-called Islamic State.”
ESPEN BARTH EIDE
UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Thursday he remained optimistic the two sides would resume peace talks, suspended for weeks due to a dispute over the island’s offshore hydrocarbons.
“The problem right now is that we’re not talking… but if we can get back to the table and negotiate, we can solve these issues,” Espen Barth Eide said during a live news show on state broadcaster CyBC.
“If we speed up negotiations we will solve every issue. And remember that, for instance, on territory or property there is no agreement, we have to negotiate. [But] on hydrocarbons, there is agreement. The two sides do agree. It takes two minutes to discuss it because they already did. It [hydrocarbons] shall be a federal capacity, it belongs to all Cypriots through the state, they all agree.
“So paradoxically, it would be the easiest question at the negotiating table if it was there,” Eide noted.
The UN official stressed that sooner or later the two sides will have to address the hydrocarbons issue: “It is not up to me to decide whether it shall be there or not, but it must be discussed at some stage… somewhere, sometime… in order to create a working federal republic.”
Asked to clarify the bridging proposal he floated to the two sides to get the talks going again, Eide said he never proposed co-management of the island’s hydrocarbons today, but rather in the future.
“My original idea was not about management [of hydrocarbons] today, it was about the future situation when the political process has already led to a solution.”
The UN official confirmed that his proposal – setting up a panel of experts from the two sides to discuss such issues as management of hydrocarbons and pollution, following a settlement – was rejected by both communities.
“Hydrocarbons can either be a blessing or a curse. If unresolved, it can cause trouble and scare off investors,” he said.
Despite the ongoing standoff on the hydrocarbons issue, Eide sought to strike an upbeat note, saying that there was a political will on both sides to resume talks.
Later in the day the UN official held separate meetings with the leaders of the European Party and the Citizens Alliance.
Commenting on Eide’s remarks, EDEK said that Cyprus hydrocarbons are not within the remit of the United Nations.
For their part, the Greens noted that the UN official appeared to be unaware of the history and intricacies of the Cyprus problem.
During his current visit to the island, Eide met with the leaders of both communities in a bid to get the talks process back on track.