- The UK Government releases a statement saying: “We want to see exploration go ahead” in Cyprus EEZ.
- The Labour Party releases a statement describing Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’ EEZ as “wholly unacceptable”.
- Meanwhile, President Erdogan of Turkey continues to make threats towards the Republic of Cyprus.
FCO: “We want to see exploration go ahead”
On 8 March, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office replied to a letter from the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, dated 23 February, about Turkey’s actions in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In the reply, the Foreign Office said:
“The UK has long recognised the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone, and we want to see exploration go ahead. We have raised recent developments with Turkey.
“We believe Cyprus’ hydrocarbons should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots and urge all parties to look for ways by which the development of hydrocarbons can support the search for a settlement.”
The letter went on to say, “we remain a strong supporter of a Cyprus settlement and continue to think that a political deal to reunite Cyprus is achievable. A reunited Cyprus would unlock significant benefits through increased opportunities for trade, investment and tourism.”
Labour Party: Turkey’s actions “wholly unacceptable”
The Labour Party has condemned Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’ EEZ and described them as “wholly unacceptable”. In a statement released on Friday 9 March to the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, the Official Opposition said:
“The actions of Turkey in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are wholly unacceptable. Preventing ships with legal permits from the Republic of Cyprus from reaching a gas exploration area with a warship is an unnecessary and irresponsible act of aggression that cannot be justified through economic or territorial interests.”
“The Labour Party is calling for negotiations to re-commence, so the island can be united again and all Cypriots are able to share in the economic potential of the EEZ.”
“With the EU-Turkey summit due to take place later this month, it is vital that Turkey withdraws any blockades from the Cyprus EEZ. This will ensure that the summit goes ahead to promote a positive relationship between Europe and Turkey in the interest of all citizens.”
The statement is signed by the Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, Fabian Hamilton MP “on behalf of the Labour Party.”
Latest Developments in the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ
Saipem 12000, a drillship belonging to Italian energy company ENI, has now left Cyprus after its window for exploration passed. Turkey’s warships have threatened the Saipem 12000 with violence and a collision which prevented the drillship from carrying out its legally permitted exploration work in Block 3 of the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ.
Whilst the Saipem 12000 was trying to carry out its legally permitted exploration, President Erdogan of Turkey threatened to “do whatever is necessary” if Cyprus “oversteps the mark”. One of President Erdogan’s close advisers warned of a “strike” in the Eastern Mediterranean if attempts to explore or drill for hydrocarbons go ahead without Ankara’s approval.
President Anastasiades told reporters that these threats are “no cause for anyone to be concerned”, and that this issue is “being handled in a manner to avert any possible crisis which could create problems either to the economy or to the state.”
Exxon Mobil’s ‘Ocean Investigator’ research vessel arrived in Limassol Port on Wednesday 14 March in order to make preparations for investigations in Block 10 of Cyprus’ EEZ. A second research vessel, Exxon Mobil’s ‘Med Surveyor’ is also expected to arrive in Limassol Port this week.
National Federation of Cypriots in the UK and Parliamentary Delegation Meets with Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan MP
A delegation of Officers from the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK held a meeting on Wednesday 28 February with the Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan MP. Also present was the Deputy Head of the Eastern Mediterranean Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Richard Lee-Smith.
The Federation delegation consisted of President, Christos Karaolis, and included Vice-Presidents, Andreas Papaevripides and Bambos Charalambous, and the Executive Secretary, Andreas Karaolis. The delegation was accompanied by Members of Parliament, Sir Roger Gale MP (Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus), Theresa Villiers MP (Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus), and Mike Freer MP.
The Federation delegation and Parliamentarians exchanged views with the Minister on a variety of topics and urged the UK Government to condemn Turkey’s illegal intrusions in Cyprus’ EEZ. The delegation invited the Minister to request that Turkey provide access to its military camps as part of the effort to resolve the humanitarian issue of the Missing Persons. They also discussed prospects to restart negotiations to reunify the island and the work of the UK Cypriot diaspora. The Federation delegation stressed to the Minister the necessity to abolish third country guarantees and withdraw foreign troops, as part of a just and viable solution.