Following the stern reaction by the South Cyprus government over two comments made by UN Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide to CNA, Eide said that he felt he had been misrepresented.
Eide’s first offending comment was:
“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.
Secondly he had said that there was disagreement on what the Cyprus problem was really about:
“It’s essentially contested what is the Cyprus problem. Is it a hijack state, or part of the country is occupied?”
In an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers, Eide issued the following statement on Wednesday evening:
“The SASG [Special Adviser of the Secretary-General] has never intended to make any kind of judgment about the competing narratives about the roots of the Cyprus problem. He was merely referring to the well-known fact that there is more than one perception about what the core of the issue is, and that while Cypriots may continue to disagree about the past, they should look ahead and aim at agreeing about the future,” it said.
On the issue of the EEZ, it added: “The SASG has repeatedly underlined that the Republic of Cyprus has exactly the same right to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone as any other sovereign state, and that its rights in this regard should be fully respected by other states. A passage in the interview could leave the impression that he relativizes this basic right, established in the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, which is obviously not the case and which was never his intention.”
In a written statement, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides had said the “Republic” had already made “very strict demarches”, adding that Eide’s original comments to CNA were “unacceptable”.