Turkish FM to Greek counterpart: Let’s visit Greek Cypriot leader

Turkish FM to Greek counterpart: Let’s visit Greek Cypriot leader

Turkish FM to Greek counterpart: Let’s visit Greek Cypriot leader

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos shake hands after a news conference in Ankara, Nov. 29. AP Photo

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu has proposed to his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos that the two visit Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who underwent a mitral valve corrective surgery in New York earlier this month.

The two foreign ministers met in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on Dec. 12 on the sidelines of the 31st Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), with steps to deescalate tensions over the divided island of Cyprus high on the agenda, Anadolu Agency reported.

Venizelos called for the withdrawal of the Turkish research ship Barbaros from the area around Cyprus and claimed its presence constituted a violation of Greek Cypriots’ sovereign rights.

“Continuing negotiations, reaching a sustainable solution and eliminating unnecessary debates are what really matter in Cyprus,” said Çavuşoğlu, for his part.

Turkey and Greece held a High-Level Strategic Council meeting in Greece last weekend under the co-chairmanship of the two countries’ prime ministers, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Antonis Samaras respectively, with the participation of nine Turkish and 10 Greek ministers.

“On Cyprus, we want negotiations to begin as soon as possible. We held very positive talks [with Greece]. They will continue. We embrace the approaches that put our mutual interests forward in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Aegean,” Prime Minister Davutoğlu said at a joint press conference on Dec. 6 in Athens.

Davutoğlu also expressed his wish for a quick recovery for Anastasiades and stressed that Turkey prioritizes the re-commencement of the suspended talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

Greek Cyprus had announced in October the suspension of peace talks as a result of a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean, which was sparked after it accelerated oil exploration drills off Cyprus. Turkey sent the seismic research vessel Barbaros to areas nearby for its own oil exploration and deployed a warship to closely follow the activities of a Greek Cyprus platform in the island’s disputed economic zone.

Çavuşoğlu also called Anastasiades on the phone on Dec. 12 to express his wish for the Greek Cypriot leader to get well soon, Anadolu Agency reported, citing Turkish diplomatic sources.