The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement on Thursday afternoon on the issue of the Turkish provocations off Cyprus, following Nicosia’s discomfiture regarding British Minister for Europe Alan Duncan’s recent remarks.
The Foreign Office’s statement clearly calls on Turkey to stop its intended drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.
”We have called on Turkey not to drill in this area,” the statement noted.
However, the British ministry did not withdraw the phrase which terms the vicinity where the Turkish vessel ”Fatih” is stationed, an ”area where sovereignty is under dispute.” This aspect of the statement appears to be an attempt to mollify Ankara.
The statement adds, however, that the United Kingdom ”recognises the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally-agreed Exclusive Economic Zone, and continues to believe that Cyprus’ oil and gas should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots.”
These remarks, however, appear to be a direct contradiction of the previously-mentioned claim that the area is ”under dispute.”
It seems clear that British authorities understood that Duncan’s remarks made London look like the only Western capital not to side unequivocally with Cyprus on the issue of its EEZ. They then decided to issue this explanatory statement, where they openly recognize Nicosia’s rights and call upon Ankara to stop its provocations.
However, London’s persistence in repeating that the area is ”under dispute,” using a phrase of diplomatic ambiguity, demonstrates that the UK is attempting to keep Turkey close at a time when Britain’s future relationship with the European Union’s member-states seems uncertain.