Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has stressed that during the European Council summit, he did not feel alone, but that all EU leaders stood by him. Any disagreements, he noted, were over the methodology for achieving the goal.
President Anastasiades, who was replying to journalists` questions in Brussels, explained the reasons why the EU27 unanimously approved the decision for Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean, clarifying the mechanics of the options proposed by the EU, such as giving an opportunity to diplomacy and assessing the behaviour of the neighbouring country in December.
He described in detail the reasons why no reference was finally made to the management of future drilling revenues, he clarified the conditions for the future implementation of a positive agenda with Turkey and the preconditions for a conference on the Eastern Mediterranean, with Cyprus directly participating in the same manner as it participates in the European Council.
More specifically, when asked about the issue of sanctions, the President of the Republic replied that “both the President of the European Council and the presiding country are in a consultation and have taken initiatives to end the illegal actions.”
As he said “never – and I have said it before my departure from Cyprus – have sanctions been an end in themselves. Therefore, the tactics followed by each country to achieve the maximum have been achieved.”
“If you read paragraph 20 you will see that it explicitly states that in case Turkey does not comply with what is stated in the Conclusions, then Article 29 of the TEU and Article 215 of TFEU will be activated in December in order for the EU to exhaust all measures at its disposal “, he stated.
Therefore, he explained, “it is not a matter of identifying 3 or 4 or 5 companies or individuals in a list, but what effective measures to take to have an effect. One is to judge and assess whether an initiative taken by EU institutions with possible outcomes is preferable, thus exhausting a margin of two months and a few days, in order to see if the one that now has the ball (in its courtyard) is determined to follow either the path of legality or the path of isolation.”
Asked what the main point of contention was and whether the Council had double standards, Anastasiades replied that “the disagreements were not about supporting the Republic of Cyprus, its sovereign rights or Greece. The disagreements were about the tactics or methodology we must follow to defend these rights.”
He assured that “at no time did I feel alone. At my side I had not only the Prime Minister of Greece Mr Mitsotakis, but also all the leaders, and I emphasise that.”
The disagreements, he said, “were over the methodology for achieving the goal.” That is, he explained, “whether we will now take sanctions against five or six companies and individuals, or whether, using diplomacy, we will give another chance to de-escalate the crisis, end unilateral action and achieve the goal which is nothing more than creating the conditions for a creative and fruitful dialogue for final settlement of the Cyprus problem.” Therefore, he noted, “this is why I expressed my satisfaction.”
Asked to comment on whether the diplomatic effort of recent weeks was worth it, President Anastasiades said “absolutely” and explained that “to achieve some goals you follow a specific tactic that should pay off what you seek. And I have the impression that following for months now, both on the part of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and, of course, on my own, we have succeeded in creating an even more intense interest on the part of the EU in a collective way, on what is happening in Cyprus, for the legal claims on the part of the Republic of Cyprus, in order to set the framework, as I have mentioned above “.
Asked about the Eastern Mediterranean Summit and the consultations around it, the President said that “details such as the participation, the scope and the timetable should be agreed by all parties involved. It has become clear both to me and to other leaders, that the Republic of Cyprus can only be represented as it is represented in the European Council. The representation of any community in any capacity is not accepted and therefore it is determined that it must be agreed who are the participants, what is the agenda, etc. It is an ambitious and welcome initiative but under certain conditions “.
Asked about the Turkish Foreign Ministry`s response, the President said that “the EU has not made any threats. The EU called on Turkey to follow the path of international law. Therefore, being called upon to follow the principles of the international order does not threaten anyone.”
He went on to say that “I do not want to focus on what the Turkish Foreign Ministry is saying. Now the responsibility and burden for the further steps lies with Turkey. If it responds positively to the EU invitation, there is the prospect of a positive dialogue with the EU and at the same time for the creation of the necessary conditions in order to resume a creative dialogue for a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
He added that “you realise that by threatening either gunfire or unilateral action in violation of international law, this climate is not being created. To the contrary, a crisis means escalation without an positive results, to the detriment of Turkey, of course, which is now called upon to assume its responsibilities.”
Asked if the issue of a hydrocarbon sharing mechanism had been raised in the Council before the final conclusions, the President explained that “in an original text there was”. He added, however, that he explained the background, he referred to the convergences of 2011 and 2015, and to the proposal he submitted in August 2019 that the Republic of Cyprus is ready if Turkey respects the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus as defined by international law of the sea, to open a trust account for the benefit of the Turkish Cypriot community in which future receipts will be deposited based on the proportion of the population and that they would still have the right – even before the solution of the Cyprus problem – to receive money from this account for the benefit of their community. “Nothing similar had to be included, instead it was deleted from the original text of the proposal submitted as the original text of the Conclusions”, he said.