Top French diplomat rejects media claims on deployment in Cyprus

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 14.06.2019 00:01

France does not foresee deployment in Cyprus, the French foreign minister said Thursday, rejecting allegations voiced by Greek Cypriot media earlier this week.

Attending a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian rejected allegations voiced by the Greek Cypriot media that France will establish a permanent base on the island of Cyprus, saying: "We certainly do not foresee French deployment in Cyprus. The Greek press is mistaken."

Cyprus has recently witnessed an increase in tensions between Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyrus (TRNC) and the Greek Cypriot administration over the latter's unilateral moves to explore and extract hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The issue received major reaction in Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated on Wednesday that Ankara would not allow any step that ignores the rights and interests of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots to be taken in the Eastern Mediterranean. He also added that Turkey now has four ships for hydrocarbon drilling activities.

Following the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said that Turkey will continue to protect the rights of Turkey and Cypriot Turks regarding the issues surrounding Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey used its guarantor rights to intervene on the island after a far-right Greek Cypriot military coup sponsored by the military junta then in power in Athens sought to unite the island with Greece. The coup followed decade-long inter-ethnic violence and terrorism targeting Turkish Cypriots, who were forced to live in enclaves when Greek Cypriots unilaterally changed the constitution in 1963 and stripped the island's Turks of their political rights.

The TRNC, established in 1983 on the northern one-third of the island, is only recognized by Turkey and faces a longstanding embargo in commerce, transportation and culture. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot administration enjoys recognition by the international community as the Republic of Cyprus, established in 1960, which is a member of the EU.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot Administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area. The unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone of the Greek Cypriot Administration violates part of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Saying unilateral exploration deprives the Turkish Cypriot minority of benefiting from the island's natural resources, Turkey has ramped up efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean and sent its first drilling vessel, Fatih, to the area east of Cyprus until Sept. 3.

Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been carrying out exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.

Ankara disapproves France's close cooperation with YPG terrorists

Meanwhile, responding to a question about France's links with the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), Çavuşoğlu said during the press meeting that Turkey does not approve of France's close cooperation with the terrorists. "It imposes a danger for the future of Syria and for its territorial integrity. It is also a sensitive issue for our border security and the security of our country and nation," Çavuşoğlu added.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.

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