Cyprus looking to avoid confrontation with Turkey

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Cyprus is not looking to get into a tit-for-tat confrontation with Turkey by following the same course of provocation taken by Ankara especially over energy rights, said President Nicos Anastasiades.

Illegal drilling activity in Cyprus waters has heightened tensions in the region but Nicosia is calling for restraint.

“Let us not follow the course of action sought by Turkey, which is to say of provocation,” said Anastasiades.

He said Turkey`s plans should not be overlooked but the necessary steps taken within the framework of international law.

He said this would be done in close concert with Greece, the EU and “friendly countries we cooperate with”.

Turkey recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Libyan Government of General Accord (GNA) for the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones. A move Cyprus and Greece consider as a violating their sovereign rights.

Anastasiades said last week that Nicosia will resort to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in a bid to protect Cyprus’ sovereign rights against Turkey’s illegal actions.

Cyprus has signed delimitation agreements with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon while following natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, it has formed trilateral cooperation mechanisms with Israel, Greece and Egypt.

Nicosia is carrying out a diplomatic campaign to avert a fait accompli which Turkey aims to establish in the East Med by signing the MoU with Libya.

Deputy government spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA): “Continuous deliberations and contacts are going with the Greek government and our European partners. The government examines and takes measures without fanfares or moves aiming to impress.”

He added: “We hope Turkey will realise that it cannot constantly act by violating international law because this intensifies the negative climate.”

“We aim at handling the situation with a calm approach. Our government does not wish to enter a rationale of provocations, because what we are interested in is to function in a way that will positively affect the securing of peace and stability in the region and not vice versa.”

Sentonas said that Turkey is looking to up the ante with the maritime deal signed with Libya.

The Foreign Ministry has condemned the signing of the memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Turkey and Libya.

“This kind of delimitation, if it went through, would constitute a grave violation of International Law, since it would disregard the legal rights of all coastal states in the Eastern Mediterranean and the rights of islands to have EEZs and a continental shelf,” the Ministry said last week.