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Media Watch 2007

03 February 2007
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 3 February 2007
'Turkey acting like a pirate'
"The only necessary action which Turkey needs to take is to become accustomed to legality and respect international laws…"

"CYPRUS yesterday accused Turkey of acting like a pirate in the region.

Turkish naval patrols along the island’s southern coast could only mean Ankara was, at best playing neighbourhood policeman, at worst the unrestrained pirate, the government spokesman said.

Christodoulos Pashiardis was responding to reports of Turkish warships moving off the south coast in international waters on Thursday.

The move was widely seen as a show of force to support Ankara’s opposition to deals made between Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt for the exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves.

Although Ankara denied anything unusual in the patrols and suggested they take place regularly, Turkish media saw that statement as a clear signal to the Cyprus government.

“If Turkey is misinterpreting the exercise of our legal and sovereign rights, what interpretation can be given to its own threatening reactions?" Pashiardis asked yesterday.

"The only interpretation that can be given is that Turkey feels, behaves and acts like a policemen in the area and sometimes as an unrestrained pirate of the eastern Mediterranean."

Pashiardis said the government was watching the developments closely and calmly, and did not yet feel it necessary to file any recourse to the UN Security Council.

For now, he said, the government would be proceeding with its plans for oil and gas exploration. February 15 is the first day for the opening of offers.
“The Republic of Cyprus, as an independent and sovereign state, can exercise all rights it has by international law. Among these legal and inalienable rights is the right to explore and exploit its natural wealth, either on land or in its coastal areas, where it exercises its sovereignty according to international law,” Pashiardis said.

“We have done nothing illegal or anything anybody could misinterpret,” he added.

Responding to questions regarding Washington’s statements that the
delimitation of the continental shelf around Cyprus and in the eastern Mediterranean was very complex, Pashiardis the only countries that had any say in the matter were Lebanon and Egypt.

On Thursday, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the immediate issue involved oil drilling rights, oil exploration rights, but then “gets into complicated legal issues” concerning delimitation.

“This stuff is extremely complex and lawyers and policymakers and politicians have wrapped themselves around this for many, many years.

There's no resolution to it, so they'll continue to work on that,” McCormack said.

“What we would urge is that the parties refrain from any actions that might be interpreted by the other side; that there be full transparency so that you don't have any misunderstandings that might result in mishaps. And ultimately what needs to happen is the parties should get back to the root causes of the dispute.”

Pashiardis responded by saying the Cyprus problem had nothing to do with oil and gas exploitation.

He also responded to comments by Turkish Prime Minster Abdullah Gul that come February 15 Ankara would take all the necessary measures if the exploration procedures began.

“The only necessary action which Turkey needs to take is to become accustomed to legality and respect international laws,” said Pashiardis."