Greek American leaders meet with Biden’s National Security Advisor. Christodoulides: Turkey’s provocative actions in Cyprus’ EEZ demonstrate lack of substantial political will.
Washington.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
US Administration has shifted its stance towards Turkey’s provocations within the Cypriot EEZ, on the eve of Vice President’s trip to Turkey and his meetings with President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, on November 21. The heavy agenda of the talks, besides the strained US – Turkish relations over ISIS policy and other hot issues also includes Cyprus. Prior to his visit to Turkey Biden is expected to meet with Greek Vice President and Foreign Minister Venizelos, on November 18. On November 22 he will meet at the Fanar with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Prominent members of the Greek American Community met on Thursday with Biden’s National Security Advisor Colin Kahl and briefed him on the issues should be raised with President Erdogan. PSEKA President Philip Christopher, alternate President Tasos Zambas, CEH’s Andy and Mike Manatos, HALC’s Executive Director Endie Zemenides and Hellenic American Federation of NJ President Savas Tsivicos participated at the meeting.
Greek American leaders expressed disappointment on Eide’s efforts to include the gas discoveries in the Cyprus talks and on the look-warm US reaction regarding Turkish provocations. According to sources, U.S. officials reiterated their support to Cyprus’ sovereign rights within its EEZ and that although the administration restrained itself and didn’t openly condemn Turkish actions, this will not continue indefinitely.
A day later, in an exclusive tv interview with Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (RIK), US ambassador to Nicosia John Koenig said Turkey has to withdraw its seismic survey ship within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and cancel its illegal maritime order NAVTEX.
Koenig who was talking to state television also dismissed criticism that the US are trying to keep a neutral stand on the region’s new tension.
Washington DC is crystal clear when it comes to Cyprus’ sovereign right to explore its natural resources, he said. And he added that the US believes Turkey must respect the sovereignty of Cyprus and end its exploration within the island’s offshore natural gas fields.
The US back UN special envoy on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide’s efforts to restart the peace dialogue, Koenig also said. And he agreed that Turkey’s actions and threats undermine the continuation of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Last month, Turkish seismic exploration vessel Barbaros entered Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone a few days after Turkey issued an illegal maritime order (NAVTEX) for the area. This forced President Anastasiades to suspend the UN-brokered peace talks in Nicosia aiming for the island’s reunification.
The provocative actions of Turkey within the Republic of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) , instead of its expected tangible support to efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem and positive response to the proposed confidence building measures, demonstrate the lack of substantial political will on the part of the Turkish side, Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said in a written statement on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the illegal unilateral declaration of the pseudo-state in Cyprus` Turkish occupied areas.
“We rule out and we condemn any form of partition, and we underline that only the termination of the occupation and the reunification of Cyprus and its people will bring about growth, prosperity and conditions of peace and security for our homeland and for the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean,” the spokesman said, pledging that the government will continue with determination, and on the basis of the values and principles of the United Nations and the European Union, and by making the best use of international alliances, to defend the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus emanating from international law.
“At the same time, we reiterate our commitment to participate in a substantive dialogue, away from threats and intimidations, aiming at reaching a viable, functional and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem. In this framework, we will continue our struggle against the fait accomplis of the Turkish invasion and occupation with consistency and steadfastness,” he noted.
“Thirty one years are completed today from the day that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership proceeded to the illegal unilateral declaration of the pseudo-state, in the framework of their policy to make permanent and to legitimize the fait accomplis of the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation, and for the division of Cyprus,” Christodoulides said.
He recalled that the international community reacted in a condemnatory manner and with clarity and that through a series of resolutions, including resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984), the UN Security Council condemned the illegal unilateral declaration, characterizing it as legally invalid and calling on all states not to recognize the pseudo-state and not to facilitate or in any way assist the secessionist entity.
“The declaration of the pseudo-state was condemned and is still being condemned today, since a lawful outcome cannot be produced as a result of an illegal act such as the use of military force,” Christodoulides, said adding that “despite the passing of more than three decades, we continue our struggle on the basis of international law and of European law and principles, aiming at the reunification of Cyprus, its economy and its people, on the basis of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation, with one single sovereignty, one single citizenship and one single international personality, with political equality as defined in the relevant UN resolutions.”
“Unfortunately, the talks between the two communities, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, have been suspended because of, once again, the provocative and illegal conduct of Turkey, through the unacceptable violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” Christodoulides noted.
He underlined that “the provocative actions of Turkey within the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus, instead of its expected tangible support for the efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem and positive response for the proposed confidence building measures, demonstrate the lack of substantial political will on the part of the Turkish side.”
A wide-ranging political and diplomatic campaign in addition to national unity are imperative to address Turkey`s aggression, President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou has said, rejecting proposals to discuss the hydrocarbons issue in the framework of the UN-led peace talks and the `co-management` or `sharing` of the revenue from their exploitation before solving the Cyprus problem.
Turkey with its recent offensive action and the violation of the Republic`s maritime boundaries is obviously seeking a role in Cyprus` natural wealth, Omirou told an event organised by the Union of Occupied Municipalities and the Municipality of Strovolos.
“Turkey is now putting on the negotiating table as a prerequisite for the solution – to secure its unlawful claims over Cyprus` natural wealth in the southern region” said the President of the Parliament.
He said that Ankara`s illegal moves in Cyprus` EEZ aim at canceling the exercising of sovereign rights, by banning drilling, extraction and exploitation of the island`s natural wealth.
Omirou underlined that “this predatory, rapacious behavior demands a broad political and diplomatic campaign and national unity. We support the measures decided by the National Council in reaction to Turkey`s unlawful behavior. The measures should escalate as Turkey continues along this path.”
Discussion on hydrocarbon issues, before a political settlement, would lead to recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in violation of Security Council resolutions 541 and 550, he warned. It would even cancel both the delimitation agreements signed with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel and the agreements with foreign companies to explore and exploit deposits found in the exclusive economic zone, he added.
Addressing the same event, on behalf of President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, Minister of the Interior Socratis Hasikos said that the suspension of the Greek Cypriot side`s participation in the Cyprus talks was the least the government could have done in response to the Turkish provocations in its EEZ.
He called on Ankara, if it truly wants the solution of the Cyprus issue, to immediately revoke “its illegal and provocative actions in Cyprus` EEZ so as to allow the resumption of the peace process the soonest possible”.
The Minister stressed that the continuation of the illegal occupation of Cyprus` northern part by Turkish troops by force of arms, and the rhetoric used by Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot leadership on “two states” and “two peoples” in Cyprus do not help efforts to reach a solution.
“On the contrary”, he went on to add, “their rhetoric moves away from a solution and reveals their intentions which do not seem to lead to a peaceful reunification of Cyprus, its people and its institutions”.
**** CNA and CyBC were also used as sources.