Foreign Office letter restates support for Cyprus settlement and opposition to Turkish drilling

Foreign Office releases statement regarding Cyprus and recent incursions in its EEZ

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Foreign Office letter restates support for Cyprus settlement and opposition to Turkish drilling

The Foreign Office has assured members of the Cypriot diaspora in the UK, of the British government’s ongoing support for a just and lasting settlement to reunite Cyprus.

In a letter penned by the relevant FCO unit, it is further stated that “the internationally accepted model of a bizonal, bicommunal federation is the best way to achieve that goal.”

The letter is addressed to 15 UK Cypriots who had written to Foreign Secretary Raab asking for London’s support against Turkey’s “second invasion” in the Republic of Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The response letter states that the best way to resolve the challenges faced by both Cypriot communities is through a comprehensive settlement to end the division.

Such a settlement “would unlock significant economic benefits through increased opportunities for trade, investment, and tourism, and open up the possibility of new energy and economic partnerships in the region,” reads the Foreign Office letter, also pointing to benefits in terms of regional security and stability.

It also repeats the UK position on Security and Guarantees, namely that the British side “has always made clear that we are open to whatever arrangements the two sides and other Guarantor Powers can agree to meet the security needs of the two Cypriot communities.”

With reference to Turkish drillships’ presence within the Cypriot EEZ, the British set the de-escalation of the situation as their priority. “The UK has repeatedly expressed our opposition to Turkish drilling plans in the waters around Cyprus, both in public and in private. We have raised the issue with the Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, reiterating UK opposition to Turkish drilling plans and urging de-escalation,” adds the letter.

It also notes that the UK “continues to recognise the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally agreed Exclusive Economic Zone.”

The letter concludes by stating that such disputes should be resolved “not through force, militarisation or coercion, but through dialogue and in accordance with international law” and that all parties should look for ways by which the development of the island’s resources can support the search for a settlement for the benefit of all Cypriots.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Turkey has dispatched drillship Yavuz to conduct a drilling operation off the south of the island of Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks for a Cyprus settlement have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

The Cyprus government has condemned Turkey’s newly planned illegal drilling within the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, noting that Turkey, provocatively ignoring the repeated calls by the international community and the European Union, to terminate its illegal activities in Cyprus’ EEZ, is now attempting to carry out a “new illegal drilling in the southern EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus, inside exploration block 8, which was duly licensed to the European companies ENI and TOTAL“.

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