With its latest decision against Turkey, the European Union has disqualified itself from playing a positive role in solving the Cyprus issue, according to Turkey’s envoy in Athens.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, Ambassador Burak Ozugergin criticized the recent EU decisions against Turkey on the Eastern Mediterranean, including the continental shelf and drilling activities.
In a final declaration last week, the European Council said that in light of Turkey’s "continued and new illegal drilling activities," it would suspend civil aviation negotiations and "agree not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being."
Ozugergin called the decision a misstep.
"The EU, by losing its chance to play a positive role in solving the Cyprus problem, in a sense has disqualified itself," he said.
He said Turkey cannot be approached this way.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels -- the Fatih and the Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
On any new negotiations starting on Cyprus, Ozugergin said no one can sit at the negotiating table before the demands of the Greek Cypriots become clear.
"So far there has been no positive signal,” he added.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
Turning to Turkish-Greek relations, Ozugergin said waiting for political and judicial problems between the two countries to be solved is a waste of time.
On the other hand, he said: "There is no reason not improve economic relations."
* Writing by Fatih Hafiz Mehmet
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