here – praising the ‘daring and courage’ of President Christofias for ignoring Turkish threats and turning on their head Cyprus’ traditional suspicion of Israel and pro-Palestinian sentiments by penning a deal with Tel Aviv for the delineation of Exclusive Economic Zones between Cyprus and Israel.
Ignatiou goes on to ask the question I’m sure we’re all asking ourselves, i.e. why Greece, in the face of similar Turkish belligerence, doesn’t get on and agree its EEZs with its neighbours – including Cyprus, which now has deals with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel, but not with Greece.
Where Nicosia has shown daring, Athens has flinched
The Republic of Cyprus has dared regarding a national issue where Greece has shown cowardice. A senior diplomat in Washington revealed to me that he has concluded that the Greek government is dominated by fear and won’t make the slightest move to delineate Exclusive Economic Zones with its neighbours. I hope the diplomat’s assertion is untrue because this will mean that on top of the economic tragedy Greece is facing, it will be inviting another, perhaps even worse, tragedy.
All the experts from all over the world agree that the delineation of EEZs is an inalienable right of each country, including Greece. The current government – and the previous one, to be fair – doesn’t dare exercise this right because it is scared of Turkey. Of course, there is another question, which only the prime minister and the foreign minister can answer, which concerns the secret negotiations aimed at coming to arrangement with Turkey over the Aegean. Papandreou and Droutsas may have denied the Turkish foreign minister’s assertion that Greece and Turkey are ‘doing business’ regarding the Aegean, but reports continue to suggest that this is exactly what is happening.
Turkey’s reaction after the EEZ agreement between Israel and Cyprus was expected: threats, exertion of pressure, blackmail, war-mongering. I imagine it would do the same in the event that Greece exercised its rights. The correct answer to Turkey was given by an Israeli official, who said: ‘Turkish claims to the maritime area based on their occupation of northern Cyprus constitute “chutzpah” that is unheard of in the international arena.’