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Mavroyiannis: Ankara should stop illegal drilling off Cyprus to allow talks to resume

Nicosia sets no conditions for the resumption of settlement talks, but in order to start actual negotiations it is important to stop illegal Turkish drilling activities and violations in Varosha, the fenced-off part of Famagusta, said Andreas Mavroyiannis, the Permanent Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the UN.

In an interview with “Egypt Today” published on Sunday, Mavroyiannis also said that it is important that the international community affirms that Turkish behaviour contradicts international law. It is also important for Turkey to pay a certain price, he added pointing to EU restrictive measures.

Referring to Nicosia’s ties with Cairo, Mavroyiannis said that in the last few years cooperation is covering many aspects, while relations between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt are becoming very strong.

Asked about Turkish actions targeting Cyprus’ efforts to benefit from its natural resources in the exclusive economic zone, the Permanent Representative said that Cyprus will not allow things that clearly violate its own rights.

We need to find ways to delimitate maritime zones in accordance with international law, as we did with Egypt and Israel, he added.

Regarding Ankara’s refusal to recognize the delimitation of maritime zones, Ambassador Mavroyiannis said that Turkey has “a very illogical notion of international law.” They have claims regarding a maritime area that very clearly belongs to Cyprus, he went on. He explained that Ankara exploits the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus to challenge the sovereign rights of Cyprus or its natural resources based on the allegation that this belongs to the northern, Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.

Asked why Cyprus did not bring up the issue of natural gas before the Security Council, as it did with Varosha recently, Mavroyiannis said that Nicosia aimed at a reaffirmation of UN resolutions 550 and 789 on Famagusta, to avoid Turkish actions there. “We wanted a very clear reaction which we’ve already gotten. It doesn’t mean that the other issue isn’t there, but it’s a small part of the problem we face with Turkey” he added.

Asked if Cyprus can count on US support after what happened in Syria and the Kurds, Mavroyiannis said that “the US, of course, isn’t against us” and attributed Syria developments to the new isolationism of US policy. “At the end, we are never happy when the US seems to accommodate a power like Turkey in conducting this kind of policies and I believe that nobody should be happy with this” he added.

Asked if France sent a military ship in the region and whether he expects any military escalation on the part of Turkey, the Permanent Representative replied that “we don’t want a military option.” It is important to receive a strong message, one way or the other, as a deterrent, Mavroyiannis said. He added that France`s step is most welcome as a message, but there is certainly no intension to engage in military clashes.

For the Cypriot Ambassador it is important to strongly affirm that Turkish behaviour contradicts international law and is unacceptable. He added that it is also important for Turkey to pay a certain price, through measures affecting Ankara’s relations with the EU, in order to affirm that continuing with the illegalities has a high cost.

Speaking about the obstacles in resuming settlement talks, Mavroyiannis pointed to the lack of political will by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side. “They are asking to get everything before we start negotiating” he said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: CNA

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