Kerry hopes for ‘equilibrium’ in order to move forward on Cyprus

Kerry hopes for ‘equilibrium’ in order to move forward on Cyprus

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday he hoped “we could get back to an equilibrium that would allow us to move forward” regarding Cyprus problem, replying to a question by Senator Robert Menendez, during a session of the Senate`s Foreign Relations Committee.

Kerry said that he had specifically discussed with Turkey, Cyprus` economic zone, Turkey`s warship presence in it, Cyprus gas rights and so forth.

“I`ve had conversations with the Turkish foreign minister about it. Previously, now-Prime Minister Davutoglu and we were working quite closely on it. My hope is we could get back to an equilibrium that would allow us to move forward. But we specifically discussed the economic zone, the ship presence, and the gas rights and so forth”, he said.

The US Secretary of State, who submitted yesterday in the Committee the government`s budget priorities on the foreign policy issues, said he intended to visit the area in the `not too distant` future , adding that one of the discussions would be “how do we move on Cyprus” in a more effective way.

“Turkey has gone into the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, put its ships there, followed with warships. It`s pretty outrageous”, said Senator Menendez.

Pointing out that Cyprus is part of the European Union, Menendez further said “if this is the way we`re going to have countries in that region affect others` economic exclusive zones, which are internationally recognized, and at the same time, pressure a country who`s in the midst and good faith of negotiation to try to solve their long-standing problem in terms of the division of the country, it`s a horrible set of circumstances”.

He also expressed the hope the US to be stronger with the Turkish government on the issue.

“This is another one of those elements of violating international norms and not having any real consequence of the message you send globally, is you can do that if you happen to be the stronger party”, said Menendez.

The US Secretary of State said that this issue has been raised in meetings with the President of Cyprus and the Turkish Prime Minister.

“I don`t know when, but in the not too distant future, I think I am slated to head in that direction, and this would be one of the conversations,
how do we move on Cypress in a more effective(way)”, he said.

Intervening again Senator Menendez, expressed the hope that the US will be vigorous about Cyprus.

“I hope we can be vigorous about the part that if you want to get a negotiation forward, you can`t have your warships off the coast of the country”, he said.

The leader of the Democrats in the Foreign Relations Committee praised the Cypriot government for its positions in the negotiations for a settlement, stressing however that “you can`t do it at the point of a gun”.

“It creates a real problem to try to move forward”, said Menendez, urging Kerry or the competent assistant if they were in the region.

“We`ve been doing it even outside the region”, said Kerry referring to the meeting with Ahmet Davutoglu and his contacts in New York.

“We`ve met frequently with all the players. We have people deeply engaged with an ambassador to the talks, who is deeply engaged in it”, he said.

The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-backed talks to reunite the country under a federal roof have failed so far due to Turkey`s intransigent stance and a policy of a `two state` solution on the island.

Turkey, which is an EU candidate country, violates international law and human rights in Cyprus since the invasion in 1974. Numerous resolutions and decisions by international and European organisations calling on Ankara to withdraw its troops from Cyprus are not respected by Turkey.

In October 2014 President Anastasiades suspended his participation in the talks following a Navigational Telex or NAVTEX, issued by Turkey in October last year, as Turkish seismic research vessel “Barbaros” violated the Republic’s exclusive economic zone. Repeated calls for the withdrawal of “Barbaros” went unheeded by Ankara, which announced in January the NAVTEX`s extension until April 6, 2015.