The UK government sees the de-escalation of the situation with regard to Turkey’s drilling operations as a priority, according to a Foreign Office Minister.
In a letter to Leonidas Leonidou, President of EKEKA, the Federation of Cypriot Refugees, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood Wendy Morton says that “the UK has repeatedly expressed our opposition to Turkish drilling plans in the waters around Cyprus, both in public and in private.”
“I have raised this issue with Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, reiterating UK opposition to Turkish drilling plans and urging de-escalation,” she points out.
The UK, Morton notes, “continues to recognise the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally agreed Exclusive Economic Zone.”
“We believe it is critical for stability in the Mediterranean and for the integrity of the rules-based international system that disputes such as this are resolved, not through force, militarisation or coercion, but through dialogue and in accordance with international law,” she says.
The Minister also reassures Leonidou that London will continue to work with the Republic of Cyprus and the wider region to that end.
“For the same reason, we continue to attach the utmost importance to securing a long-term settlement to the division of Cyprus and urge all parties to look for ways by which the development of the island’s resources can support the search for a settlement for the benefit of all Cypriots,” she adds.
Leonidou’s original letter was addressed to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. It detailed aspects of Turkey’s illegal actions and provocations and urged a review of the UK`s relationship with Turkey.
Morton also assures Leonidou of the UK’s ongoing support for a just and lasting settlement to reunite Cyprus, as the best way to address issues following the events of 1974 that “continue to cast a long shadow over Cyprus”. She stresses that the UK’s commitment to a deal on Cyprus remains “unwavering”.
“The UK believes a reunited Cyprus would unlock significant economic benefits through increased opportunities for trade, investment and tourism, and open up the possibility of new energy and economic partnerships in the region. A settlement on the bizonal, bicommunal federation model would bolster the island’s security and help to advance regional stability,” she says.
Ultimately, she adds, “the best way of resolving the challenges faced by both Cypriot communities is through a comprehensive settlement to end the division of the island and the British Government will continue to work towards this end. This will require the agreement of the two leaders; the support of Greece and Turkey; and importantly, successful referenda in each community.”