Turkey Demonstrates Aggressive Behavior towards Cyprus
United Nations, Nov 22 - Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemning Turkish obstructions against an exploratory survey conducted by Cyprus within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
On November 13th, two ships under foreign flag that were conducting an exploratory survey on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus within its EEZ, 27 miles off the south coast of the island were forced by a Turkish warship to cease their operations and withdraw within the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus, under fear for the lives of their crews and the integrity of the ships.
“It becomes apparent that Turkey continues its unacceptable policy of questioning the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus, as a State Member of the United Nations, to exploit the natural resources within its EEZ, in accordance with international law and in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the President notes in his letter to the Secretary-General.
President Christofias adds that “the gravity of the incident cannot be overstated, taking into account the crucial time in relation to the efforts for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
“Turkey has chosen, once more, to ignore the calls of the international community to actively support the efforts for a solution and, on the contrary, it continues to do all in its power to undermine such efforts by demonstrating aggressive behavior,” he stressed.
President Christofias also points out that “such behaviour constitutes a violation of the obligation of Turkey, as a Member of the United Nations, to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, including that of the Republic of Cyprus, as the United Nations has repeatedly underlined in numerous resolutions by the Security Council, on which, ironically enough, Turkey will sit as a non-permanent member in less than two months’ time.”
The President notes that the Cypriot government “will continue to act always within the dictates of international legality.”
“It is our belief that intransigence and provocation can only be effectively combated through respect of international law and the relevant conventions of the United Nations. I am certain that you, as the Secretary-General of an organization that was designed to uphold world peace, share this conviction,” he concluded.
The President's letter to the UNSG, dated November 14, was accompanied by a letter from Cyprus's Permanent Representative to the UN, Minas Hadjimichael.
“The above incident itself, as well as its timing, gives rise to grave concerns. The hostile and threatening character of the incident points to the increasingly aggressive nature of Turkey’s actions in the maritime space of Cyprus, while its timing, in the midst of a process aiming to reunify the island, serves only to undermine the process and to raise doubts as to Turkey’s commitment to it,” Mr. Hadjimichael noted.
Commenting on the issue before departing from the Presidential Palace for the UN controlled area of the now defunct Nicosia airport, for his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, in the framework of direct negotiations, President Christofias said: “We will continue protesting against Turkey as long as Ankara provokes.”
Asked if the Turkish action aims at raising obstacles at the direct talks, President Christofias said that everything was possible.
“We act on the basis of the Law of the Sea and the UN Conventions,” he added.
Asked if he will raise the issue at his tête-à-tête meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, President Christofias clarified that Mr. Talat is not responsible for the Turkish actions.
“Subsequently, Mr. Talat has no authority or any power to call for an end to this kind of provocative actions. This is a matter for Ankara, and that is why we appeal to the international community to take the necessary steps,” President Christofias pointed out.