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Greek foreign minister ‘pessimistic’ over possibility of resolving Cyprus issue

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Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he is “pessimistic” regarding the possibility of resolving the decades-old Cyprus issue in an interview with financial newspaper Naftemporiki published on Monday.

“Unfortunately, I am not optimistic about the prospect of resolving the Cyprus issue,” he was quoted as saying, responding to a question about Turkey’s insistance for a two-state solution. 

“Last April, I spent three difficult days in a basement in Geneva, at the informal meeting convened by the UN Secretary General with the participation of the Republic of Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriots and the three guarantor powers. What I heard from the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides unfortunately made me completely pessimistic. The Turkish and consequently the Turkish Cypriot side insisted on a rhetoric that has nothing to do with reality,” he said and reiterated Greece’s position for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

Dendias was refering to an unofficial five-part meeting called by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in late April to see whether there was enough consensus to resume peace talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The meeting ended without any success. 

Asked about relations with Turkey, Dendias reiterated that Greece does not want an escalation in tensions, but it “will not accept an attempt to usurp [Greek] sovereignty” in the Aegean.

He also reiterated Greece’s position that the only difference with Turkey is the delimitation of the continental shelf and of the EEZ in the Aegean and in the Eastern Mediterranean, based on the International Law and particularly on the Law of the Sea. 

“But we do not have any delusions. Unfortunately, Turkey continues not to accept the basic rules of the international behaviour and in parallel it cultivates an aggressive rhetoric which is far beyond what would be considered diplomatically acceptable. We are always vigilant and are building alliances with friends and partners and enhancing our deterrence force,” he said.