Ozdil Nami warns of increasing tensions after Greek Cypriot Administration, Israel and Russia conduct military drills between Crete and Cyprus
The Greek Cypriot Administration, Israel and Russia should end their joint military exercises around Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Ozdil Nami has said, warning the drills would increase fears of conflict.
Nami’s comments came on Wednesday, days after the military exercises were staged between Cyprus and Syria.
Nami told Anadolu Agency: “This type of exercise will increase tension in the region – everyone must continue to work for a comprehensive solution.”
The Greek Cypriot Administration had earlier said the drills were a response to Turkey sending its gas exploration vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa to waters off the divided island.
The Israeli navy launched drills with troops from the Greek Cypriot National Guard in waters between Cyprus and Crete as part of the exercises.
‘Find a solution’
Nami said: “The Greek leaders must return from the mistakes they have made, and such issues should be resolved through dialogue and peaceful ways and all countries need to continue to work hard and support peace talks. This alliance between Russia, Israel and the Greek Cypriots must come to an end because this will increase conflict tension in the region. We must find a solution.”
“Because there are many differences of opinion on this issue, negotiations are still going on,” he added.
Greek Cypriot Leader Nicos Anastasiades suspended peace talks with Turkish Cyprus two weeks ago over the divided island after Turkey sent its gas exploration seismic vessel to waters off Cyprus.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot government have strongly opposed any unilateral move by the Greek Cypriot administration to explore any hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying that its natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner under a united Cyprus.
Anastasiades called on UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon earlier this month to intervene in the dispute, claiming Turkey was violating the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its “exclusive economic zone”.
The administration’s spokesperson, Nicos Christodoulides, said Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades could submit a formal complaint against Turkey during a European Council meeting this week and Greek Cypriot administration would not let new chapters in Turkey’s EU accession talks be opened unless Turkey changed its policies.
“We will not let Turkey’s EU membership process be undermined by such outbursts,” Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir told reporters Wednesday.
Greek Cypriot Leader Anastasiades will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron during their visit to Brussels on 23 and 24 October, where he is expected to denounce Turkey’s actions.
The island of Cyprus has remained divided into Greek and Turkish parts since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north in 1974.
The Greek Cypriot administration is a member of the EU and is internationally recognized except by Turkey – the only country which recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.