Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ statements during a joint press conference with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, during his first official visit abroad, in Nicosia, caused Ankara’s fierce reaction.
“Tsipras’ statements during his visit to the ‘Greek-Cypriot administration,’ (sic) especially those regarding research vessel ‘Barbaros,’ do not contain elements expected from Greece, which is a guarantor power and mother homeland, in order to achieve a settlement in the Cyprus problem based on the equality of the two peoples,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said, adding that Turkey is willing to return to the negotiation table in order to find a solution on the Cyprus problem. “Our priority is that Turkish-Cypriots should have the right to exploit natural resources. That is why Turkey will continue to always support the Turkish-Cypriot side,” he highlighted.
It should be noted that during his visit to Cyprus on Monday, Tsipras expressed the opinion that “the presence of research vessel “Barbaros” undermines the talks for a just and viable solution, and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law,” causing the reaction of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who said that his country’s right to conduct research, undertaken in some parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), “is arising under domestic and international law.” “Tsipras’ statements were aimed at domestic politics and so we do not feel the need to criticize them,” he added. Although, he concluded that he does not believe these developments will negatively affect the relations between Greece and Turkey, as these statements should be considered normal in such visits.
Cyprus, which is a part of the European Union since 2004, has been violently divided since 1974, after a brutal Turkish invasion and the following occupation of its northern lands or 37% of its territory. On its part, Turkey has repeatedly denied to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, despite numerous calls by international institutions and the European Union, which Ankara aims to join. At the same time, numerous United Nations-backed negotiations to reunite the island under a federal government have failed. In October 2014, Cypriot President Anastasiades suspended his participation in the peace talks following a NAVTEX (Navigational Telex) issued by Turkey for the conduction of hydrocarbons research in Cyprus’ EEZ by seismic vessel “Barbaros,” escorted by a number of Turkish Navy ships.