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President will try to secure US support for EEZ similar to that of the EU

March 18, 2019 at 10:11am
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President Nicos Anastasiades will try to secure US support for the rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), similar to that expressed by the EU, during a tête-à-tête he is expected to have in Jerusalem next week with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Speaking to CNA, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said a bilateral meeting between President Anastasiades and Pompeo is expected to take place on the sidelines of the Cyprus-Israel-Greece trilateral Summit, in order to discuss Turkish threats in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, among others.

“The EU reiterates its solidarity and support for the rights of the Republic of Cyprus in the EEZ. Therefore, the President will seek to have something similar from the United States” Prodromou said, while referring to statements made recently in Brussels by Federica Mogherini, the Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

Speaking after the end of the EU-Turkey Association Council, last Friday, in the presence of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Mogherini said, among others, that “the European Union stands in full solidarity with Cyprus when it comes to the recent statements by Turkey in relation to its planned drilling activities in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.”

The Government Spokesman noted moreover that a number of other bilateral issues are expected to be on the agenda at the Jerusalem meeting with Pompeo, such as ExxonMobil’s presence in Cyprus’ EEZ, as well as the arms embargo on Cyprus, which the US imposed back in 1987 to avoid hindering reunification efforts.

As for the trilateral Summit, Prodromou said that it will focus mostly on energy security issues, and noted that the meeting takes place shortly after the hydrocarbon discoveries by ExxonMobil in Cyprus’ EEZ block 10.

Trilateral cooperation is a reality and it is constantly evolving, said the Government Spokesman, and added that the trilateral scheme provides partners the opportunity to follow developments in relation to energy, security and geopolitics, in a coordinated manner.

He said moreover that trilateral cooperation is being upgraded through the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “This conveys the message that the US takes into account the role that all three countries play for stability and security in the region” Prodromou added, noting that US interests and the interests of Israel, Cyprus and Greece are aligned.

As for the signing of an interstate agreement on the Eastmed pipeline, concluded last December in the trilateral Summit, in Beer Sheva, Prodromou said that any developments are likely after the European elections. Rome’ presence, who is a partner of the gas pipeline project that aims to link Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, is required for the signing, he added.

Meanwhile, in his twitter account today, Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus, Sammy Revel, wrote that “at today’s Cabinet meeting PM Netanyahu’s remarks included: This week American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in #Israel . Together with him I will also meet with the President of #Cyprus & PM of Greece 2 discuss laying of gas pipeline from Israel to Europe.”

With regards to the Cyprus problem, Prodromou was asked to comment finally on an interview by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who told “Kathimerini” newspaper that for Turkish Cypriots “a positive vote is the minimum and anything short of it is not allowed.”

Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots focus on political equality only, which is one of the six parameters, set by the UN Secretary General at the 2017 Conference on Cyprus, at Crans-Montana, Prodromou said. We don’t hear anything about the issues of security, or territory, he added, noting that this is not an encouraging sign.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

(Cyprus News Agency)