South Cyprus has taken grave exception to comments made by Espen Barth Eide in an interview with CNA, published earlier on today.
Two comments have angered the Greek Cypriot side; one in which he said exclusive economic zones were not sovereign, and a second where he said of Cyprus: “It’s essentially contested what is the Cyprus problem. Is it a hijack state, or part of the country is occupied?”
In a written statement, South Cyprus Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the Republic had already made “very strict demarches”, saying Eide’s comments were “unacceptable”.
“With regard to certain references by Mr Eide in his interview to the CNA, and more specifically that some states do not consider that the seismic explorations in the Exclusive Economic Zone of a state is a violation of the UN convention, as well as some other references… about the legal status of the Republic of Cyprus, the government wishes to express its disappointment and to note that it considers those references as unfortunate and unacceptable and totally in contrast to international law and UN Security Council resolutions, as well as with the relevant UN conventions on the Law of the Sea.”
Christodoulides said the remarks did not help in the effort to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, “and Mr Eide, as the UN Secretary General’s representative, is obliged to respect international legality, UN resolutions and UN conventions. The Republic of Cyprus has already made very strict demarches to Mr Eide,” he said.
What did Eide say?
“There is the legal argument that is very strong on the Republic of Cyprus side, which is that the Republic of Cyprus is a country like every country and it can declare its economic zone. After all, nobody has exploited it by the way. It is a question of how much a violation has actually happened because many countries do not see seismic exploration as a violation as long as they don’t lead to exploitation. Because the economic zone is not sovereign territory, anybody can basically do anything there but for taking out the resources. But that’s a very technical issue,” he said.
The other argument, he said, from the Turkish Cypriot side was that the hydrocarbons of Cyprus belonged to all Cypriots. “And one side of Cyprus cannot just venture into making all decisions that will have a kind of an eternal effect on everyone without consulting with the other side”.
“So, there is a legal argument and a political argument. And this actually illustrates the deep problem of the Cyprus problem. It’s essentially contested what is the Cyprus problem. Is it a hijacked state, or part of the country is occupied? And we know that we will never get a full agreement on that. But you can get to full agreement on how you reunify. So the hydrocarbon crisis is in essence an illustration of the deep disagreements that lies behind the whole understanding of what the Cyprus problem is,” he added.