(AA) – Tsipras expects Turkey to make the first move in the Eastern Mediterranean natural gas dispute, says Director of Center for International and European Studies at Kadir Has University, Istanbul.
The charismatic leader of the anti-austerity party Syriza – 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras – won a historic victory in last Sunday’s election, and quickly formed a coalition with small Independent Greeks party which also opposes Greece’s EU and IMF aid program.
Asked whether Tsipras’ general moderate stance would also inspire a solution to the decades-long Cyprus question, as well as gas sharing dispute around the island, Assoc. Prof. and Director Dimitrios Triantaphyllou said that judging from his statements in Cyprus on Monday, he will preserve the previous government’s stance.
Tsipras’ untraditional leftist stance and positive statements about Turks living in Greece created hope in Turkey that he will adopt a friendly stance on the issues of Cyprus question including the gas dispute.
Tsipras paid his first foreign visit to Greek Cypriot administration on Monday, where he reiterated the Greek position on a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus.
“Turkey’s sending of the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic vessel (in October last year) is a clear violation of international law and a sabotage of peace negotiations,” he said.
Tsipras called on Turkey to respect international law and not to threaten Greece in order for negotiations between the two to continue.
Turkey and the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have strongly opposed any “unilateral” move by the Greek-Greek Cypriot administration to explore any hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying its natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner under a united Cyprus.
Negotiations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration had resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013.
However, the Greek Cypriot administration suspended the talks over the divided island on Oct. 7 after Turkey sent a ship to monitor an oil-and-gas exploration mission off the coast of Cyprus.
Triantaphyllou went on to say that, “Tsipras also believes that on the energy front in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece should continue to cultivate the trilateral relationships that the previous government promoted, i.e. Greece-Cyprus-Egypt and Greece-Cyprus-Israel.”
He said that Tsipras is very much in tow with the Greek Cypriot President Anastasiadis and is waiting for Turkey to make the first move, but he added that Tsipras wants to maintain the current cordiality in Greek-Turkish relations and is treading carefully so as not to disrupt them.
“He is also sending a message that the more hardline stance of his defense minister and the leader of his coalition partner, Panos Kammenos of the right-wing Independent Greeks, are not the government’s positions,” added Triantaphyllou.