Turkey, Greece urge resumption of stalled Cyprus talks
Turkey and Greece are supportive for the restart of negotiations between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on how to reunify the divided eastern Mediterranean island, the two countries' top diplomats has said, Anadolu agency reported.
Appearing at a joint press conference Saturday in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos called for the resumption of of reunification talks which came to a halt when the Greek-Cypriot administration suspended them on Oct. after Turkey sent a warship to monitor an oil-and-gas exploration mission off the disputed Cyprus coast.
Turkey and the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have strongly opposed any "unilateral" move by the Greek-Cypriot administration to explore any hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying its natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner under a united Cyprus.
The Turkish Cypriot government has already repeated their firm stand on many occasions that the resources of the island of Cyprus belong to both communities and that the Turkish Cypriots will not give up their rights on those resources.
Making a joint press statement with Venizelos, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, "It is our desire to find a solution for the people of both sides to protect their rights."
Reiterating Turkey's goodwill in negotiations, Cavusoglu said: "We hope that the negotiations will start soon and a permanent solution on the island can be achieved."
Saying that the talks between both sides should start immediately, Venizelos said: "We need to solve this problem for the development of relations between Turkey and Greece."
Venizelos added international law constitutes the basis of the cooperation between the two countries.
Cavusoglu said that the desire is to avoid any step that would escalate tensions in the region.
Senior Turkish and Greek officials will meet in the third edition of the "High-Level Cooperation Council," which will take place in Athens on Dec. 5-6.
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.