Trilateral cooperation schemes reinforce Cyprus but do not forge an alliance against anyone, Zenon tells CNA

The trilateral cooperation schemes which Cyprus has developed, along with Greece, with countries in the region do not constitute an alliance and are not directed against anyone, but reinforce Cyprus at the political level, as it gains more support in the international arena, former Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Alexandros Zenon told CNA, noting at the same time that one must take into consideration the factors that influence the interests which several countries have vis-A�-vis Turkey and the position of Turkey in the region.

In an interview with CNA, and asked about the reaction of the international community as regards the Turkish provocations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and if the trilateral cooperation schemes, and the cooperation of Cyprus with other countries in general, help the country during periods of crisis, as the recent harassment of ENIs drillship Saipem 12000 by Turkish warships in Cyprus EEZ, Zenon said that that countries which have outlined their positions on the issue regarding Cyprus’ EEZ, expressed views which are supportive to our positions, and I have not heard any statement which supports the Turkish positions.

From there on, one must take into consideration the factors which affect the interests of these countries vis-A�-vis Turkey, and generally the position of this country in the region, said Zenon, who retired recently after serving at the Ministry for 39 years, in various posts. As the Permanent Secretary, Zenon represented Cyprus in political consultations with other countries.

He underlined that the aim of the trilateral cooperation schemes is to “promote relations among the participant countries in various fields of common interest, with a view to establish conditions of stability, security and welfare in our region and that through them Cyprus is also politically reinforced, gaining more support in the international arena, which helps it to more effectively overcome the various challenges it is faced with.

Zenon noted that political and diplomatic support has been expressed to Cyprus in international fora to which the Republic participates, and more specifically by the EU, in an explicit and intense way. As far as I know our actions continue and I presume that they will gradually culminate, taking into consideration the reactions by Erdogan’s regime, he added.

Moreover, he noted that the current state of the relations of the Turkish government with the US and the EU does not help towards making Turkey act prudently, and that any actions and interventions towards Turkey must be discreet and must not offend Ankara’s prestige in order to be effective.

Zenon expressed the belief that there are levers that can be used with a view to exert pressure on Turkey, and that Cyprus is moving towards this direction.

SAIPEM 12000 drillship, commissioned by Italian energy company ENI, to start drilling operations in block 3 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was halted by five Turkish warships last Friday morning, while making a new effort to reach Soupia target, which it was unable to fulfil due to Turkish threats.

On February 9, Saipem had to halt its transfer journey to block 3 of Cyprus EEZ, when it was stopped by Turkish military ships with a notice not to continue because there would be military activities in the destination area.

Asked about the course of the negotiations between Cyprus and the United Kingdom in view of Brexit, Zenon recalled the political agreement reached between the two countries, according to which the rights of the inhabitants and those employed in the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs), in Cyprus, must not be negatively affected by Brexit.

Zenon recalled that as has been agreed with the EU negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, the issues concerning the SBAs will be discussed during negotiations between Cyprus and the UK and the agreement reached bilaterally by the two sides will be incorporated in the final agreement between the EU and the UK.

He noted that during our negotiations with the UK some issues came up on which there are differences between the two sides since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. This is not however the right forum or the right time to resolve these disagreements, he added.

Zenon expressed the belief that both sides have the political will to reach a beneficial, mainly for the affected citizens, agreement.

The UK has retained two sovereign military bases in Cyprus, one in Akrotiri and one in Dhekelia, since it granted Cyprus its independence in 1960

Referring to his responsibility during his term in office as the Foreign Ministrys Permanent Secretary on issues regarding security and the combating of terrorism, Zenon said that there are several counter-terrorism action plans which the Ministry can implement, however each crisis must be addressed on its own merits, and actions plans must be accordingly adapted, on the basis of the facts of each incident.

We have, inter alia, dealt with asymmetrical threats and potentially dangerous for the state security situations as well as with terrorist actions in other countries which affected Cypriot citizens, he noted.

Source: Cyprus News Agency