Cyprus on Tuesday pulled out of the latest round of United Nations-buffered peace talks in protest at apparent attempts by Turkey to encroach on Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and called on the international community to condemn Ankara’s “provocative behavior.”
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades made the decision after gaining the endorsement of Cypriot political party leaders, according to government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, who said Turkey’s behavior had left Nicosia with “no other choice.” The spokesman called on “all other countries, and especially our European Union partners, as well as permanent members of the [UN] Security Council to react to Turkey’s action.”
Christodoulides was referring to plans by Turkish authorities to conduct seismic research off the island’s southern coast, in areas where Cyprus already has licenses to drill for natural gas. “The Republic of Cyprus will continue to exercise its sovereign rights,” he said.
The decision means that a scheduled meeting Thursday between Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and the UN’s special envoy to Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, will not go ahead.
Eroglu condemned Nicosia’s move as “the wrong stance,” saying it proved that Greek-Cypriot efforts to solve the Cyprus problem “were not sincere.” He added that he had previously asked Anastasiades to temporarily suspend plans for drilling off the island’s coast and that the Greek-Cypriot side had ignored his warnings.
There was no comment from the UN camp but sources said that Barth Eide, who arrived in Nicosia Tuesday, called a meeting with his aides to discuss the developments.
The Greek Foreign Ministry, which has backed Nicosia in the dispute with Cyprus, on Tuesday lodged a complaint with Turkish Ambassador in Athens Kerim Uras. Meanwhile Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos discussed the matter by telephone with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides.