World Bulletin / News Desk
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed political support for Cyprus talks and promised stronger engagement with the European Union to facilitate a settlement for the dispute over the divided island.
"We are for progress in the UN process, as quickly and successfully as possible," Merkel told journalists during a joint press conference Tuesday in Berlin with the visiting Greek Cypriot leader, Nikos Anastasiadis.
"The [Greek] Cypriot side is willing the EU's stronger engagement in this process. We agree with that and would offer support," Merkel said.
But she also underlined that the main platform for the settlement talks would continue to be the UN.
Anastasiadis began his four-day official visit in Germany on Tuesday with a meeting with Merkel.
He told journalists that his talks with Chancellor Merkel focused on Cyprus talks, Eurozone crisis, cooperation in the fields of economy and energy.
The Greek Cypriot leader said the geo-strategic importance of Cyprus offered closer cooperation with Germany in the field of energy.
"We would like to transform Cyprus into an energy hub. This may help decreasing dependence," Anastasiadis told journalists at the joint press conference. "It can also attract great attention in Germany."
Merkel praised Anastasiadis for his efforts to overcome the economic crisis in southern Cyprus.
"I know how hard it is to take these measures, particularly in terms of unemployment and to structural change," Merkel said.
She added that Germany would offer support for projects to assist small and middle-scale enterprises.
In late 2011, the American oil company Noble Energy found reserves between 142 and 227 billion cubic meters (bcm) in Cyprus Block 12, Aphrodite Field, within the scope of its operations in Israeli waters. After the discovery of such massive amounts of reserves, the Greek Cypriot administration declared that it would start drilling off Cyprus in cooperation with Israel.
Turkey warned the Greek Cypriot administration against any unilateral moves to extract natural gas and oil reserves off Cyprus, claiming that the Turkish Cypriots also have a say on these reserves.
The island of Cyprus has remained divided into Greek and Turkish zones since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by Turkey’s peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north.
In February this year, Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders agreed on a joint declaration and resumed settlement talks to reunite the island.
The declaration recommends recognizing the equal status of the two states, while aiming to bring the divided communities closer under a federal government.
The Greek Cypriot administration is a member of the European Union and is internationally recognized. Turkey disputes Greek Cypriot administration’ claim to represent the whole island and officially recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as the only legitimate government in the north.Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Mayıs 2014, 09:29