Expectations of meaningful negotiations to resolve the Cyprus problem remain low on both sides of the Aegean after Tuesday’s meeting in New York between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.
Erdogan repeated the Turkish accusation that Nicosia is acting unilaterally in the development of natural resources in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), without consulting with the Turkish Cypriots residing in the occupied north.
For his part, Tsipras reiterated that the Cyprus problem must be resolved first before all other issues are tackled.
However, sources said on Wednesday that despite the lack of progress in New York, the meeting between the two men was a cordial one.
The same sources said that even though Erdogan stuck to his country’s standard positions he showed a willingness to discuss differences. Another indication of the Turkish leader’s stance was his invitation to Tsipras to visit Istanbul.
Greece also took the instructions given by the Turkish Coast Guard to Turkish fishermen to avoid Greek territorial waters as an indication of Ankara’s intention to reduce tension.
The Cyprus problem was also discussed by the foreign ministers of the island’s guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom. If anything, the meeting confirmed that Britain is too caught up with Brexit to have a decisive impact with regard to Cyprus. Nonetheless, with energy projects pending in the Eastern Mediterranean, international pressure for a settlement is mounting.
Meanwhile efforts to deepen Greek-US ties are continuing, with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias scheduled to visit Washington again on December 13 to meet his American counterpart Mike Pompeo.