Foreign Minister claims Turkey’s ‘destabilising actions’ threatening Cyprus reunification

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Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides has claimed Turkey’s “destabilising actions” are hampering attempts to resume Cyprus reunification talks.

Meeting with Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday, the two foreign counterparts discussed Moscow’s intention to step in and help start talks if asked by all the countries involved in the tense standoff.

European Union members Greece and Cyprus accuse Turkey of violating international law and of “gunboat diplomacy.” Turkey insists it’s defending its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots on ethnically split Cyprus to their rightful share of the area’s potential gas deposits.

“It’s therefore essential at this juncture for the international community to intercede with Turkey especially by all U.N. Security Council members like Russia with the aim of immediately ending Turkey’s unlawful actions and behaviour that clearly don’t adhere to the framework of international law,” Christodoulides said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades talk during their meeting at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Iakovos Hadjistavrou/Pool Photo via AP)

Greece and Turkey have faced off against each other in recent weeks as Turkish survey vessels and drill ships continue to prospect for gas in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights. Greek and Turkish armed forces have been conducting military exercises in the area in a show of muscle-flexing to underscore each side’s resolve.

Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is ready to help ease rising tensions over Turkey’s search for energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean and rejected any actions that could lead to further escalation.

“Russia considers as unacceptable any steps that could further escalate tensions,” Lavrov said after talks with Cypriot counterpart Nicos Christodoulides.

“We would be ready to contribute to building good neighborly relations in the event this is requested of us by those involved,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow has repeatedly called on leaders in the region to “resolve these differences though dialogue and within a legal framework.”

In this photo provided on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, by the Greek Defense Ministry, warships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France, participate in a joint military exercise which was held from 26-28 of August, south of Turkey in eastern Mediterranean sea. (Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

Lavrov was alluding to Washington’s decision to partially lift an arms embargo on Cyprus that was designed to prevent an arms race hindering United Nations-facilitated talks to reunify the island.

The embargo was directed against the southern, Greek Cypriot part of the island, where Cyprus’ internationally-recognized government is seated.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aimed at union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and claims 44% of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone as falling within its own continental shelf.

Washington said it was lifting the arms embargo against Cyprus for one year — with the option of renewal — to let it procure non-lethal equipment.

Turkey reacted angrily to the partial embargo lifting and announced that Russia would also be conducting live-fire naval exercises this month in areas in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkish research vessels are prospecting for gas.

Sourced By: Associated Press

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