The British Minister for Europe David Lidington has reiterated the UK government’s position that it recognises the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights to exploit mineral reserves in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
In a letter addressed to Theresa Villiers, a north London Conservative MP known for her support of Cyprus, Mr Lidington adds that it remains the UK’s position that such resources should be exploited for the benefit of all the communities in the island.
The letter, dated 25 November, came as a response both to a question and a previous letter sent to the minister by Ms Villiers in which she was highlighting and criticising Turkey’s provocations over Cyprus’ EEZ.
Mr Lidington states that the UK has made clear its concern “about the potential for Turkey’s seismic surveys to raise tensions” and that it has continued to call on all parties to avoid inflammatory actions or statements.
He also comments that “this ongoing dispute puts at risk the UN’s efforts, while underlining the importance of reaching a comprehensive settlement.” The letter repeats that the British government’s aim remains to reduce tensions and to encourage the parties to resume settlement talks.
Lidington also replies to a specific question by Theresa Villiers on the UK blocking the proposal for an EU demarche at the UN regarding Turkish provocations. He describes it as “an unusual procedure that risked raising tensions and frustrating the UN’s facilitation of the settlement talks.”
Closing his letter the Minister for Europe refers to “active diplomacy” by London, and notes that the UK ambassador in Ankara has conveyed the British concerns to Turkey, while he personally recently raised the issue directly with his Turkish counterpart.
“We regularly urge Turkey to meet its commitments, in line with the EU accession criteria. We will also continue to support UN Special Adviser Eide’s efforts to encourage the parties to renew their talks for a comprehensive settlement,” concludes David Lidington’s letter.
Informing the leadership of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK about the minister’s response, Theresa Villiers gave assurances of her intention to continue to monitor the situation closely.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY