Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas has expressed his government’s dissatisfaction over the stalemate in the direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem, stressing that the Turkish Cypriot side has continuously retreated in the course of the negotiations.
Dimas, who will be accompanying Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on his two-day official visit to Cyprus, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the Cyprus issue remains an issue of invasion and occupation for the Greek government, and stressed that Greece will continue to struggle for a just and viable solution and for the reunification of the island.
He said that the negotiations must be Cypriot-led and Cypriot-owned and that the people of Cyprus should decide upon the future of their united country.
Dimas also expressed Greece’s discomfort over Turkey’s threats as regards the assumption of the Presidency of the Council of the EU by Cyprus.
Cyprus, an EU member since May 2004, will assume the six-monthly rotating EU Presidency in July 2012.
Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, has threatened to freeze its relations with the EU when Cyprus assumes the EU Presidency.
The Greek Foreign Minister also referred to explorations and the exploitation of Greece’s natural resources, noting that the Greek government has shown its will to cooperate with neighbouring countries, including Cyprus. He added that the brotherly relations with the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the steady cooperation with Israel, are the ideal basis for the further development of the collaboration.
Asked about the Turkish threats on Cyprus’ sovereign right to exploit its natural resources found in its exclusive economic zone, Dimas described these threats as unfounded, noting that the international community has condemned them.
In his interview with CNA, Dimas also referred to the current economic situation in Greece, noting that there is a great deal of things that need to be done and therefore the next government’s task is hard.
Last December Cypriot President Demetris Christofias announced that exploratory drilling carried out by Houston-based Noble Energy in block 12 of the island’s exclusive economic zone, revealed a gross mean average of 7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas.
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus’ northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls its continental shelf.
The government of Cyprus has protested Turkey’s moves to the EU and the UN, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots stand to gain from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
UN-backed talks for a settlement to the Cyprus problem began in September 2008.
Source: Athens News