Bağış rebukes Greek Cyprus on drilling
PRAGUE / NICOSIA - Anatolia News Agency
EU Minister Egemen Bağış. AA photoTurkey’s European Union minister has severely criticized yesterday’s Greek Cypriot offshore drilling for oil and natural gas around the eastern Mediterranean island, accusing the Greek Cypriot side of trying to stall ongoing settlement talks to end the 37 year division between the two sides.
“Gas is going nowhere if it is already there. Why the hurry? And the U.N. secretary-general has set a deadline of the end of the year for any settlement. So, this is an open provocation of the U.N.-brokered peace efforts,” Egemen Bağış told a panel discussion in Prague in response to criticisms from Phaedon Anastasiou, the Greek Cypriot side’s top diplomat to the Czech Republic.
Bağış said his arguments were strong and Anastasiou would not succeed in changing his mind. Bağış also criticized the EU failure to invite Turkey to the EU foreign ministers meeting in which was discussed sanctions for Syria on Dec. 1. “Let me ask this question: Did Turkey lose anything for not being there? One nation could try to make a foolish move, but the other 26 countries should not remain a bystander to missed opportunities,” he said. As Anastasiou claimed citizens of Turkey were moving to northern Cyprus, Bağış replied that citizens of Greece also move to southern Cyprus and this has continued for decades. Anastasiou criticized the presence of Turkish soldiers on the island and Bağış responded this was a result of the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan Plan in the referendum. Bağış said he would have supported Turkey’s EU accession if he were a Greek Cypriot as this would guarantee his [Greek Cyprus] future.
Turkish Cyprus to hold population census Dec 4
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu said the population census scheduled to be taken in Turkish Cyprus on Dec. 4 would be crucial for them. “This population census is highly important for [Turkish Cyprus]. The issue of population in Cyprus talks is crucial. I expect everyone to attach importance to the population census on Sunday,” Eroğlu said. Seven experts from the United Nations will observe the upcoming census and there will “not be any reason for suspicion in regards to the population count,” he said after speaking with Greek Cyprus leader Demetris Christofias at the buffer zone in Nicosia on Dec. 1. The two leaders are scheduled to meet again Dec. 5. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the extension of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for six months.