Theo Ioannou | 29 Nov. 14 from the TOC
The Foreign ministers disagreed on the issue of Cyprus and research and drilling in Eastern Mediterranean waters, especially the question of Turkey’s participation in the latter.
Venizelos said that the Cyprus issue talks were interrupted because of “an ongoing violation of the Cyprus Republic’s sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean,” while Cavusoglu said the trilateral agreements Greece has reached with Cyprus and Egypt on one hand and Cyprus and Israel on the other “escalate the tension”; this issue would be discussed at the Cooperation Council, he noted.
To the trilateral agreements, Cavusoglu said, “Greece is an independent country and we cannot object to the talks and its cooperation with other countries. However, there cannot be any valid restriction in the eastern Mediterranean in which Turkey is not included. These things escalate the tension. The goodwill must continue. These are issues that will be discussed during the meetings of the Supreme Council of Cooperation in Athens on December 5 and 6.”
Venizelos responded, “Our proposal is a given, that Turkey participates on the basis of respect for the international law of the sea.” Later in the press conference, the Greek FM said, “There is no doubt that all the rights and expectations of all Cypriot citizens from natural wealth should be guaranteed. According to the constitution of 1960, this relates to the federated state. However, there is not doubt that the state of Cyprus that will be a single one and member of the UN and EU has sovereignty and sovereign rights. The constitution will guarantee the rights from revenues for both entities participating in the federated state. But the violation of sovereign rights and of the international sea law must end.”
Speaking on the Cyprus issue, Cavusoglu said, “The solution of the issue would not just benefit Turkey, Greece and the two peoples on Cyprus, but will also contribute to the stability and security of the greater area… Following the tension created by the oil research, the Greek Cypriot side withdrew from talks. We wish the restart of talks.” He added that “everyone recognises the fact” that the people [of the self-styled state of northern Cyprus] “have rights over natural gas and oil in the area. What is needed is an agreement that guarantees the rights of both sides.”
Cavusoglu also spoke about economic cooperation between Greece and Turkey, saying that trade between the two was worth 5.7 billion dollars annually, which should be increased to 10 billion dollars. He also noted that by the end of 2014 it is expected that a total of 1 million Turkish nationals will have visited Greece this year, while that of Greek nationals visiting Turkey will have reached 700,000.
“A solution to the Cyprus issue will allow us to underatke many more initiatives in the sectors of economy, energy and foreign policy,” Venizelos stressed. The ministers also discussed issues of illegal immigration, fighting terrorism, and Islamic militants, with Venizelos noting, “We know how critical Turkey’s role is against the threat of the so-called Islamic State.”