ANKARA – Visiting the Turkish capital on Nov. 29, Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos called on the country’s leader 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.
He was talking about a Turkish research vessel and warship in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone that led Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to break off the unification talks. It wasn’t reported if he told Turkey to remove its ships or sidestepped the issued.
Cavusoglu, however, accused Nicosia of “unilateral actions” in issuing licenses to international companies to drill for oil and gas and said there should be a deal that benefits Turkey and “safeguards the interests of both sides,” even if any resources are found in waters belonging to Cyprus and not off the northern third controlled unlawfully by Turkey.
“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.”
Cyprus has been divided since an unlawful invasion by Turkey 40 years ago. Turkey still keeps a standing army in the lands it occupies in defiance of international law.
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.