Foreign Ministry makes official representation to UK over its position on Cyprus’ EEZ

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made on Wednesday an official representation to the UK High Commissioner to Cyprus, Stephen Lillie, over his country’s position with regard to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, while Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will send a letter about this issue to the British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Anastasiades had described on Tuesday British Minister for Europe sir Alan Duncan as “unacceptable” following the latters statement, before the House of Commons, that exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons should not be taking place in areas where sovereignty is under dispute. Duncan, who was responding to questions by MPs, was referring to Turkeys decision to launch drilling activities in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

Later on in a reply to a request on behalf of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, by MP Mike Freer, for clarification on Duncan’s statement, the Foreign Office initially repeated the same statement: The position of the UK is that, in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, exploratory drilling should not proceed in any area where sovereignty is under dispute. Then it repeated the previously stated UK position on the Cypriot EEZ: We recognise the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally agreed Exclusive Economic Zone. We believe Cyprus’ oil and gas should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots, as the Foreign Office has said before.

Responding to questions by journalists on Wednesday about the statements by Duncan and the Foreign Office, in view of Anastasiades’ statement on Tuesday that representations will be made to the UK, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that the UK High Commissioner to Cyprus was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, in order for the necessary representations to be made to his country for the unfortunate statements made by the Minister.

He went on to say that at the same time the President of the Republic will send a letter to the British PM. Invited to say whether the UK will be warned though this letter about a possible change in Cyprus’ stance on Brexit, the Spokesman referred to the statements which President Anastasiades made on Tuesday.

Anastasiades had noted in his statements the unprecedented support which Britain enjoyed during the current crucial period for her by a small country like Cyprus, which, as he noted, has a voting right in the EU as all other member states.

Meanwhile, responding to questions about a telephone conversation which the UNSG’s Special Envoy on Cyprus Jane Holl Lute had on Tuesday with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, the Spokesman recalled that President Anastasiades has responded positively to the initiative that Lute has undertaken on behalf of the Secretary General.

The President has made suggestions about the next steps, which are very well known, either for a meeting among the three of them (Lute, Anastasiades and Akinci) or for a meeting with the participation of the interested parties, which participated in the UN Conference on Cyprus as well, he noted. Moreover, he stressed the need for Turkish offensive actions and violations to be terminated.

Prodromou underlined that President Anastasiades has been positive from the very beginning and ready for the resumption of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem, something however that was not possible so far due to the fact that Turkey has been referring to the period after the European elections, and because the Turkish Cypriot side has been unwilling to proceed to any meeting.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Ankara has issued a navigational telex, announcing its intention to start drilling off Cyprus until September 3. The Turkish drill ship Fatih is located almost 40 nautical miles west of the Akamas peninsula and 83 nautical miles from the Turkish coast. The area falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus.

Source: Cyprus News Agency