UN envoy’s comments rile Athens and Nicosia

Athens and Nicosia complained on Wednesday about the behavior of United Nations special adviser Espen Barth Eide after the mediator suggested in an interview that the Cypriot government should be consulting with Turkish Cypriots about the search for and use of the country’s hydrocarbons – a position that is shared by officials on the Turkish-occupied part of the island.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Eide spoke of a “hydrocarbons crisis” on the island and said that “one side on Cyprus cannot take decisions that affect all citizens without consulting with the other side.”

The comments by the Norwegian diplomat infuriated the Cypriot government. Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides described the comment as “unfortunate and unacceptable” and not in the spirit of United Nation Security Council resolutions and the Law of the Sea.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry also expressed its dissatisfaction with Eide’s comments and pointed him to the sovereign rights enjoyed by his own country in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) when it comes to hydrocarbon exploration. “We recommend that the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on Cyprus first study the practical implementation of the International Law of the Sea during the development of the hydrocarbon deposits in the Norwegian EEZ, and then proceed to statements regarding the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus,” said spokesman Constantinos Koutras.

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