Nicosia will wait for the EU Council response to Turkey’s new Navtex, before it acts, F? tells CNA [VIDEO]

Nicosia will expect to see the reaction of the informal European Council, meeting in Brussels on Friday, before it decides on its next steps with regard to the renewal of a NAVTEX Turkey has issued reserving part of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said.

In an interview with CNA, as he prepares to leave his post, the Minister pointed out that Ankara’s moves are taking place at a time when efforts to resume the stalled peace talks, for a political settlement, should have been underway.

Replying to a question, he expressed great disappointment with the stance adopted by the UN on this issue, which he likened to Pontius Pilate’s stance, pointing out that this matter concerns an international Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Kasoulides appeared critical of the reply British Minister for Europe has given to the House of Commons on this issue, describing it as totally unacceptable.

Invited to comment on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean after Ankara had renewed the NAVTEX, which was to have expired on 22 February, he said governments which have engaged in diplomatic efforts in the direction of Turkey believe that as long as the vessel Saipem 12000 is in the area, they have not exhausted these efforts and they will continue.

Saipem 12000, conducting drilling operations on behalf of Eni in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, had to halt its transfer journey to a new location on Friday 9 February when it was stopped by Turkish military ships with a notice not to continue because there would be military activities in the destination area. Saipem 12000 has planned drilling operations on behalf of ENI in block 3 in the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ.

The Minister also said that the government will wait to see the outcome of Friday’s European Council, where President Nicos Anastasiades will raise the issue of Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Our next steps will depend on the reaction of the Council because as you understand we cannot remain inactive. We reserve the right to speak out after the Council meeting in Brussels, he told CNA.

Kasoulides said that Ankara’s arbitrary moves in areas it claims that they belong to her or to the Turkish Cypriots do not absolve the Turkish Cypriot community of its responsibilities with regard to the situation created exactly by these moves.

The problem is not simply a problem between Cyprus and Turkey. It is a problem which has occurred at a time when normally efforts to resume the UN-led peace talks should have been underway to resolve the Cyprus issue, he pointed out.

The repercussions of this situation, he explained, cannot affect Turkey alone, but they will touch the Turkish Cypriots as well.

Invited to identify other fora, apart from the EU, where Cyprus can address itself with regard to Turkey’s provocative actions, the Minister stressed that the government has not been idle since Friday 9th, when Saipem 12000 vessel had to stop its journey to Soupia location for a new drilling.

We opted for quiet diplomacy, rather than going public about our moves, the Foreign Minister told CNA.

Replying to questions on the matter, he expressed grave disappointment with the way the UN has approached the problem.

We are very disappointed with the way the UN has addressed this issue. The stance the UN spokesman, speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary General, has taken is like the stance adopted by Pontius Pilate. However, this issue concerns the UN Law of the Sea Convention, he pointed out.

The Minister said that it is disappointing to see that the UN Secretary General maintains an equal distance, not as the person having a mandate for his good offices mission towards the island’s two communities but as the person at the helm of the UN.

Kasoulides described as totally unacceptable the reply British Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan gave to MPs at the House of Commons, saying London is assessing the situation.

The UK happens to have a special relation with Cyprus, for many reasons, apart from the fact that, as a guarantor power, it participates in the Conference on Cyprus. If it decided that it will assess the situation now, this is very regrettable, he added.

He expressed certainty that this would have a fallout on bilateral relations, noting that in the past five years these relations have improved a lot in all aspects, including security, cooperation with the two military bases the UK maintains on the island, and the cooperation and understanding Nicosia displays regarding Brexit.

I will not be here to witness any evaluation we will carry out in relation to the UK but I would like to express my deep regret on this matter, he said.

This, he added, is not the first time Sir Alan has disappointed Cyprus and referred to his stance during July’s Conference on Cyprus, and in particular his latest intervention which the Minister said was catalytic in the collapse of the Conference, which aimed at reaching an agreement to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

This was pointed out to him at the time but it seems that his approach is completely different to that adopted by British governments in the past five years, the Minister concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency