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Turkish Cypriot leader: EU not sincere or impartial over Cyprus

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Turkish Cypriot leader: EU not sincere or impartial over Cyprus

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In response to gas and oil drilling carried out by the Greek Cypriot government in the Mediterranean, Turkish Cypriots have started to conduct their own explorations, backed by Turkey. The island is divided between an internationally recognised Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, recognised only by Turkey.

The resulting tension may endanger the island’s long-running reunification negotiations under the auspices of UN. euronews’s correspondant Bora Bayraktar talked to Dervis Eroglu, the Turkish Cypriot leader. He accuses the US and the EU of not being sincere and impartial over Cyprus.

Bora Bayraktar, euronews:
“First, I would like to ask about the peace talks that have been going on for the last three years. You took over the negotiations since last year. The oil drilling crisis comes at a time when Turkey has announced that talks cannot go on forever. Do you think this is a coincidence?”

Dervis Eroglu:
“It is absolutely no coincidence. This oil issue was discussed for many years. But it is not right to start drilling when unification talks are going on. I told Mr Hristofyas that this action would have a negative effect on negotiations and asked him to delay drilling, or we would take action. But he ignored our warnings. I think the reason why the Greeks did this was because they wanted to repair their image, which was badly demaged by the naval base explosion in which 13 people died. He wanted sympathy from the electorate. Secondly, he wants to win over Greek nationalist opposition. At the moment, the Greeks have no intention whatsoever of making a deal. He may even have done this drilling to deliberately affect the negotiation process. I mean this is no coincidence but a deliberate act.”

euronews:
“So you say they took unilateral action and you reacted in the same way by signing a deal with Turkey?”

Dervis Eroglu:
“I told them we have as much right to drill for sea bed resources as they have. In October the situation will be more or less clear. We will see if the tri-party meeting results in an agreement. I said, let’s postpone this action until the end of October and evaluate the situation together. If you say “this is our right”, which you obviously said, then we should talk about the partners and companies to work with. These are decisions that we should take together. But you act alone. We see a hidden intent here. Despite of our views, they continued with their actions. This situation has forced us to sign an agreement with the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. After this we started seismic research in cooperation with the Turkish Petrolium Company.”

euronews:
“But don’t you think that this may escalate the crisis further?”

Dervis Eroglu:
“Neither Turkey nor us are planning to escalate the tension. However, if our exploration works are harrassed by Greek Cypriots or their Israeli allies, we will not remain silent. But we wish to avoid this. Because if it happens we will react. But we have no intention to start a conflict or a war at all.”

euronews:
“Recently the American State Department said that they are supporting Greek Cypriot’s oil drilling efforts. What is your reaction to that? To the attitude of the US and also of the EU in this crisis?”

Dervis Eroglu:
“Both the US and the EU took sides in this disagreement. The EU is sending messages in support of the Greek Cypriots because they belong to the EU. Noble Company that makes the drill is a US company. But the American State Department recently made a statement supporting my four-point proposal. However, I believe that there is no need for the EU and US to give messages that spoil Greeks. It is harming the talks. With this support Greek Cypriots came to the negotiating table with no intention of making a deal. Even former Cypriot President Klerides said in his memoirs that “we sat around the table as if we wanted a deal but we never signed an agreement”. And he is proud of that. For this reason if the US and the EU want a peace deal for Cyprus they must stop spoiling the Greeks and start making decisions to encourage them to sit at the table. For example, if they lift the embargoes on us, this will encourage the Greek side to make a deal with us. There are decisions taken by the UN Security Council against us, against our declaration of a Republic. They can review these decisions. If they even start talking about that this will force the Greek side to sit at the table.”

euronews:
“Do you think that the final solution would be a permanent separation?”

Dervis Eroglu:
“You know, as the talks continue we are trying to form a Federal Republic, a new state. If this cannot be achieved then separation is another option. I heard that even on the Greek side this possible separation is being discussed. But for now, I am not in a position to say for certain. On my agenda there is a Federal Republic, completely a new partnership based on two different communities. Not a continuation of the Cyprus Republic, but a new state, a new common state.”

euronews:
“The EU has made promises to lift the embargoes. It has been seven years since the referendum. What do you make of the EU’s policy in Cyprus?”

Dervis Eroglu:
“I don’t find the EU sincere on this issue. They are partial. For instance, before my trip to the UN for the UN General Assembly summit, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Stephan Füle, called me. He said this oil drill issue should not go too far. He was trying to do his job. But I said, you must tell this to the Greek Cypriots and not to us. He said he did. And I advised him to use tougher language so maybe they would stop. But he answered “they are a member state, so we cannot do more than a phone call”. This shows their position. They are encouraging Greek Cypriots. Look, in fact, there is no point of the Cyprus issue that has not been discussed. What is missing here is the “intention”. Greek Cypriots are playing for time because they have no intention of making a deal, or sharing with us. Even today I say that they are playing for time. As you said, Greek Cypriots will take over the EU presidency in the second half of 2012. After that there are presidential elections in February 2013.”