Riyadh stands ready to explore ways of strengthening relations with the Greek Cypriot administration within the framework of bilateral Business Forums in both countries, Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said on Wednesday.
In a joint press conference with the foreign minister of the Greek Cypriot administration Nikos Christodoulides, Al-Assaf reiterated the Kingdom's interest in developing relations on all fronts, while exploring opportunities for cooperation regarding the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. This plan aims to diversify the country's economy and develop its political, energy, security, military and defense fields.
"We need to take advantage of the many elements that bring us together and the economic opportunities that our two countries offer,” he said, adding that the Kingdom supports the legitimacy and sovereignty of the Greek Cypriot administration and the decisions taken by the United Nations in support of the Greek Cypriots on the Cyprus Island.
During his visit, the first by a top Saudi official, Al-Assaf also met with Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades.
Some important steps have already been taken between the two countries to enhance bilateral relations, such as implementing the Income Tax Treaty, which came into force on March 1 to avoid double taxation, and the Air Services agreement in January 2018 to launch air services between the countries and the development of civil aviation.
The Greek Cypriot administration seeks the exchange of information with allies to bolster security around an offshore search for natural gas.
The Greek Cypriot administration unilaterally announced 13 so-called parcels in the Eastern Mediterranean as its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and allowed international oil and drilling companies to operate in these areas, which are anticipated to hold rich hydrocarbon reserves.
However, the majority of these parcels clash with the EEZ declared by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), with the Greek Cypriot administration ignoring the fundamental rights of the TRNC to a share of the island’s resources.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus's annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.
By Busranur Begcecanli