On a visit to Ankara on Saturday, Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos called on Turkey to respect Cyprus’s sovereign rights so reunification talks on the island could resume.
“Unfortunately, the discussions came to a halt because the Republic of Cyprus’s sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean are being challenged, so we all have a duty to take the necessary action to support the talks,” said Venizelos after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. The Greek foreign minister was referring to the presence of a Turkish research vessel in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone. Cavusoglu, however, accused Nicosia of “unilateral actions” with regard to hydrocarbon exploration and called for an agreement that “safeguards the interests of both sides.”
“It is our desire to find a solution for the people of both sides to protect their rights,” said Cavusoglu. “We hope that the negotiations will start soon and a permanent solution on the island can be achieved.” Venizelos also stressed that the recent strengthening of Greece’s relations with Egypt and Israel was not a move against Turkey. He called on Ankara to take part in the process “based on the respect of international law and the Law of the Sea, which is the common denominator in these cooperations.”
The Greek foreign minister also pledged to make it easier for Turks to get visas to visit Greece as Cavusoglu said that he expects the number of people from Turkey visiting Greece to increase to 1 million this year.