Russia offers to mediate any Cyprus-Turkey talks

Reuters , Tuesday 8 Sep 2020

Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov adjusts his glasses during a press conference after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides at the foreign ministry house in Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 AP

 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Cyprus on Tuesday that Moscow was ready to help mediate in any talks with Turkey over energy exploration in the east Mediterranean Sea.

A decades-old rift between Turkey and Cyprus, which is backed by Greece, has come to a head this year in disputes over commercial rights in the east Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich in natural gas.

"As far as your relations with Turkey are concerned, we are ready to promote dialogue, pragmatically based on mutual interests and in search of decisions, which will be fair and based on international law," Lavrov said at a meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia.

"Russia considers any steps that could lead to a further escalation of tensions (in the east Mediterranean) unacceptable," he later added in a news conference.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at loggerheads over the extent of their continental shelves. Ankara also disputes the rights of Cyprus to explore for natural gas in the sea area around the island.

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