On a lightning visit to Athens on Wednesday, the United Nations mediator for the Cyprus problem, Espen Barth Eide, said the presence of a Turkish seismic vessel off the island’s coast was hampering the resumption of stalled peace talks and fueling tensions.
“What’s happening now is actually quite dangerous and I encourage everyone to do their best to avoid any kind of further escalation,” Eide said after talks with Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. He highlighted the need “to create the right conditions.” “That has to do with several factors and the presence of the Barbaros is one of those factors,” he said, referring to the Turkish vessel. Venizelos referred to “provocative actions on the part of Turkey, which openly questions the sovereign rights and even the very existence of the Republic of Cyprus.”
Meanwhile, on a visit to Nicosia, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also prodded Turkey, saying it should respect Cyprus’s right to explore for natural gas and describing actions that fuel tensions as “extremely unnecessary.”
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is due in Nicosia on Thursday to underline Greek support for Cyprus before his scheduled participation on Saturday in a summit in Cairo with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Said el-Sisi.