Turkey should recognise Cyprus, if genuine about talks - Cypriot president

If Turkey is genuine about the talks to reunify the divided Mediterranean island, it should recognise Cyprus first, President Nikos Anastasiades said on Thursday.

“What I have to say to Mr. Çavuşoğlu, is that if he truly wishes for us to hold talks, then first and foremost they need to recognise the Republic of Cyprus,” Cyprus Mail cited Anastasiades as saying.

The Cypriot president was responding to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu’s earlier remarks, saying that island’s natural gas reserves need to be split equitably with Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara, which does not recognise Cyprus as a state, says the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognised by Turkey, should receive a fair share from gas resources of the disputed island, while it has territorial claims that overlap with Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Turkey also should accept Cyprus’ proposal, “either to have a dialogue to delineate the demarcation lines for the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Republic and of Turkey, or to go to arbitration,” Anastasiades said.

Should Ankara agree to the proposal, and a decision determines the demarcation lines between the two countries’ EEZs, “everything can be on the table,” the Cypriot president said.

Asked whether Nicosia prefers a pipeline running from Israel to Cyprus, Anastasiades said this is not a matter for Cyprus alone.

In an interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV on Thursday, Çavuşoğlu also said that the EastMed pipeline project is not viable.

“Turkey is the most economical route for Israel's rich natural gas reserves to reach European markets and it has to pass over Cyprus,” he said.

In 2020, Israel, Greece and Cyprus signed an agreement to ship natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Europe. EastMed pipeline project, which is expected to cover 10 percent of Europe’s overall need for natural gas, arrived amid soaring regional tensions with Ankara, which was seeking to expand its claims over gas-rich areas of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Republic of Cyprus, controlled by Greek Cypriots, is the only recognised government on the island, which has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 by Turkish invasion, sparked by a brief Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military junta then ruling Greece.

The internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus controls the southern two-thirds of the island, and the TRNC, founded in 1983 and only recognised by Turkey, the northern third. Numerous diplomatic efforts to reunify Cyprus under a federal model have failed.

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