Cyprus urges Turkey to end gas standoff, resume peace talks

Cyprus' energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, right, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades attend a meeting with the leadership council of the island, at the Presidential palace in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Cyprus' president Anastasiades says an offshore hydrocarbons search will carry on as planned despite strong opposition by Turkey and the ethnically split island nation's breakaway Turkish Cypriots. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Cyprus urges Turkey to end gas standoff, resume peace talks

NICOSIA: Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday urged Turkey to lift its blockade of offshore gas exploration that would benefit both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots once the island is reunited.
"The rhetoric by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots is unjustified and unfounded, and it does not serve the best interests of the Cypriot people... The planning of the Republic of Cyprus in the field of energy will proceed," Anastasiades said in a statement.
"I publicly call on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community to immediately respond to my call to return to the negotiating table, provided this is preceded by the termination of the violation of the sovereign rights" of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), he said.
Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, said the island's untapped energy riches belonged to the state and would be shared with the Turkish Cypriots once the island was reunified.
"Our goal is to fully explore Cyprus's hydrocarbon potential, in the best terms possible, so as to maximise the benefits for all the people of Cyprus," he said.
Cyprus is embroiled in a standoff with Turkish warships blocking an Italian drillship from exploring for gas in the divided island's politically sensitive waters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned foreign energy companies not to "overstep the mark" in the Mediterranean after Turkey's warships blocked the Italian vessel.
The standoff over exploiting energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean risks further complicates stalled efforts to reunify Cyprus following the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks last year.
Italy's energy giant ENI said its ship had been ordered to stop by Turkish ships earlier this month over "military activities in the destination area" as it was on course to start exploring in block 3 of Cyprus's EEZ.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup.
While the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus is internationally recognised, the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Ankara.
Turkey and Cyprus have long argued over the eastern Mediterranean, and Ankara has been stringent in defending the claims of Turkish Cypriots for a share of energy resources.
Cyprus expects more exploratory drills, with US giant ExxonMobil also planning two drills in the second half of 2018.


Far-right shuts French rapper out of Bataclan attack site

Updated 21 September 2018
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Far-right shuts French rapper out of Bataclan attack site

  • Medine, a Muslim, insists his opponents are trying to divide France
  • The father of an attack victim joined protests against the concerts

PARIS: A popular French Muslim rapper said Friday he is canceling sold-out October concerts at the Bataclan music hall in Paris, a target of the deadly 2015 terror attacks, due to pressure from far-right groups who claim he promotes a radical ideology and is desecrating a now-sacred site.
The statement by Medine came as far-right activists announced plans to try to keep concert-goers from entering the hall for his shows. The father of an attack victim joined them, stressing he was apolitical but wanted action. Patrick Jardin said later that canceling the concert avoided the risk of violence.
Since June, the right and far-right have waged a campaign to shut down Medine’s shows.
The singer said on his verified Facebook and Twitter accounts that the far-right activists’ goal was “to divide” the nation, and “they don’t hesitate to manipulate and reawaken the pain of the families of victims.”
He said he was canceling out of respect for victims’ families and out of concern for fans’ safety. Medine said he would perform, instead, in November at another major Paris music venue.
“It’s a decision of good sense,” said Jardin, the father of Nathalie Jardin, a Bataclan lighting engineer who was among 90 people killed on Nov. 13, 2015, when extremists invaded the music hall, one of several targets that night in which 130 people were killed.
“I think they avoided blood running again at the Bataclan,” he said, noting that “very determined” people were expected to show up ahead of the concerts.
Jardin said he wrote twice to Medine but never received a response from him or from the police chief.
A 2005 album by Medine, “Jihad,” with a picture of the singer with a saber, was posted on social media in June, melded to a poster of his upcoming Bataclan show, spurring rancor and leading some to believe he would sing about jihad, or holy war. Medine has noted the album’s subtitle is “The Biggest Combat is Against Yourself.”
In a 2015 album “Don’t Laik,” evoking French secularism in a play on words, he sings, “Crucify (secularists) like in Golgotha,” or Calvary, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.
“We can’t allow victims to be assassinated a second time,” said activist Richard Roudier of the League du Midi.