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Most important issue is reaching a Cyprus settlement, President notes in letter to UNSG

The most important issue of essence is to reach a settlement on the Cyprus problem that will undoubtedly provide answers to all unresolved issues resulting from the unacceptable status quo, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades stresses in his letter to the UN Secretary General, dated 22 of July 2019.

The President’s letter was also sent to the President of the EU Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Turkish Cypriot leader, following Akinci’s letter to the UNSG dated 13 July 2019, through which he conveyed a “proposal on the issue of the hydrocarbon resources around the island”.

In his letter, which was given public on Wednesday, the President rejects Akinci’s proposal, and expresses his deep regret that the said proposal is in stark contrast to convergences achieved on the issue of hydrocarbons within the framework of the negotiating process for reaching a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus  problem.

Those convergences, he says, provide that Federal Cyprus, following the settlement, will continue being a contracting party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and all matters pertaining to the maritime zones will be regulated by the said Convention.

They also provide that territorial waters, continental shelf, contiguous zone and EEZ (with the meaning ascribed to them by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), as well as maritime delimitation and settlement of any disputes regarding these maritime areas with neighboring states, fall within the federal government`s competences. They also provide that all natural resources of Cyprus, including hydrocarbons, will constitute federal resources managed by the federal government and consequently, any revenues accrued from the exploitation of the state`s natural resources will be allocated to the federal government.

The aforementioned convergences establish a complete framework within which all matters relevant to hydrocarbons have already been agreed, the President underlines.

Stressing that the Turkish side has never contested those convergences, he points out that it is for this exact reason that the issue of hydrocarbons was never raised during the intense negotiating process from 2012 till July 2017 in Crans-Montana.

The President also notes that as a result `Your Excellency never deemed it necessary to include the issue of hydrocarbons in your six point Framework, an agreement on which would have paved the way forward for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem`.

The said proposal, he says, allegedly aims to safeguard the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, which is invoked by Turkey as a pretext for its unlawful activities within the maritime zones of the Republic of Cyprus.

He recalls in his letter, that the Republic of Cyprus taking into account the need to secure the rights of the Cypriot people as a whole, has entered into force, through a relevant legislation, the National Sovereign Fund, based on the Norwegian model, for the management of any future revenues accruing from hydrocarbon exploration.

The President says that the aforesaid legislation ensures that the revenues will be reserved for the future generations of all Cypriots and that any use of the revenues either for repaying public debt or their utilization by the Government as a guarantee for securing loans is strictly prohibited.

Turkey`s assertions are also revoked by the fact that, contrary to the convergences achieved that following a comprehensive settlement federal Cyprus will continue being a party to the Law of the Sea Convention and all matters pertaining to maritime zones will be governed by the said Convention, their claims, he notes, reduce and limit the EEZ of Cyprus by 44%, at the expense of the rights and interests of the Cypriot people, both Greek and  Turkish Cypriots.

He reminds the UNSG about the invitation extended by the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey to enter into negotiations for the delimitation of our respective maritime zones in accordance with international law, an invitation which the EU reiterated and welcomed in the European Council’s Conclusions dated 15 July 2019, and which Turkey still refuses to accept.

The President notes that as regards safeguarding the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, further to the convergences reached and the establishment of the National Sovereign Fund,  he is willing to examine additional safeguard mechanisms to the benefit of the Turkish Cypriots from the revenues, when and if accrued, from hydrocarbon exploration, in the framework of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Stressing that the most important issue of essence is to reach a settlement on the Cyprus problem that will undoubtedly provide answers to all unresolved issues resulting from the unacceptable status quo, he says that what comes first is establishing the necessary conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations which will lead to the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

The President expresses satisfaction for the fact that the T/C leader, “contrary to the proposal on hydrocarbons submitted on July 13 2019, in his letter addressed to you (UNSG) dated 10 July 2019 suggested to convene an informal conference in the format of Crans Montana adopting in essence one of the proposals which I have suggested in writing to my letter to Your Excellency dated 14 June 2019”.

He expresses readiness “to meet the Turkish Cypriot leader either in private or in the presence of Ms Lute (UNSG’s envoy) in order to discuss the conditions for convening an informal and of a procedural nature Conference, in the format and composition of Crans-Montana, with the hope that such an informal conference, thoroughly and properly prepared, will lead to the resumption of meaningful negotiations”.

Of course, he concludes, resuming the negotiations entails that Turkey will actively contribute to creating an appropriate and conducive to holding talks climate, by ending its unlawful activities in the territorial sea and the EEZ/ continental shelf of Cyprus, as well as its plans concerning the fenced city of Famagusta.

The President`s letter was sent earlier today to the 27 EU member states, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament, as well as the political parties in Cyprus,

The Republic Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. 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.

Turkey issued in May a navigational telex, announcing its intention to start drilling off Cyprus until September 3. Since May 4, the Turkish drill ship “Fatih” is anchored in an area that falls within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus.

A second Turkish drill ship, “Yavuz”, is also off the island’s northeastern coast.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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