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Greeks call off Cyprus peace talks over Turkish offshore drilling

PEACE TALKS to reunite the divided island of Cyprus collapsed once again this week after the Greek side withdrew in response to Turkish offshore drilling.

Greeks call off Cyprus peace talks over Turkish offshore drilling
10.10.2014
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Parting of the ways: Republic of Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades; Kudret Özersay, this week dismissed as Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator; and Turkish Cypriot president Derviş Eroğlu

Parting of the ways: Republic of Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades; Kudret Özersay, this week dismissed as Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator; and Turkish Cypriot president Derviş Eroğlu

 

PEACE TALKS to reunite the divided island of Cyprus collapsed once again this week after the Greek side withdrew in response to Turkish offshore drilling.

Greek Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said he was “compelled” to make the move after

Turkey started searching for oil and gas in waters off the island’s southern coast.

In a separate move that makes a swift restart of talks unlikely, the Turkish Cypriot leader sacked his chief negotiator, Kudret Özersay, who has announced he will be running against him in next year’s presidential election.

The collapse of peace talks came after rising tension between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus, the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot administration led by Mr Anasatiasdes that Ankara does not recognise.

OFFSHORE DRILLING

Yiannakis Omirou, head of Cyprus’s House of Representatives, said Turkey’s decision to send a warship into waters described as part of the island’s exclusive economic zone “provocative behaviour” and an infringment of internationa law.

But the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Greek Cyprus had to “refrain from acting as the sole owner” of the island’s resources and called on it to stop a “unilateral” search for fossil fuels.

 

A British Foreign Office spokesman described the incident as “regrettable” and added that although London recognised the sovereignty of Cyprus over its exclusive economic zone, “this incident underlines the importance of a comprehensive settlement”.

ÖZERSAY SACKED

The Greek Cypriot decision to withdraw from peace talks was soon followed by a Turkish Cypriot decision to sack their chief peace negotiator, Kudret Özersay.

A statement from Turkish Cypriot president Derviş Eroğlu’s office said he thought it would be “more appropriate” for Mr Özersay to return to his academic role at Eastern Mediterranean University.

The decision was widely anticipated after Mr Özersay announced he would be challenging Mr Eroğlu for the North Cypriot presidency in next year’s elections.

A replacement has not yet been named.

‘SERVICE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OFFICE’

After his dismissal, Mr Özersay told the Kıbrıs Postası newspaper: “Since the role of chief negotiator was given to me in February, I have worked to reach a solution that would bring a comprehensive solution in Cyprus that protects the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people.

“I have represented the Turkish Cypriot side within the framework of the task given to by the President, be it in talks with the Greek Cypriot side or be it in talks with many diplomats from foreign countries.

“But offices and positions are temporary. What is permanent is the service you give.”

He continued: “I now want to look to the future. If we want certain things to change in the future, if we want real change and renewal, we needed to take some courageous steps even if it meant losing certain things.

“That is why I announced I am ready to do what falls before me and be a candidate for president in 2015. I wish the best for our country.”

 

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