Cyprus-South Africa Relations on the Rise
Relations between Cyprus and South Africa are on the rise with a steady increase in trade over the last five years, said new High Commissioner Sophonia Rapulane Makgetla after presenting his credentials to President Demetris Christofias.
South Africa's government is grateful for Cyprus' support in the struggle against apartheid and for the sanctions it imposed prior to the democratic transformation, said Makgetla. Diplomatic relations were established with S. Africa in 1993.
South Africa supports efforts to secure full implementation of all United Nations Resolutions on Cyprus and encourages the Greek-and-Turkish Cypriots to find their own peaceful solution to the dispute, said Makgetla.
"The people of South Africa have overcome deep divisions in our society. We did that by including everyone in the negotiating process in our search for solutions," he said.
In his own speech, Christofias said that Cyprus will be signing a Tourism Agreement as well as other agreements in the fields of Health and Merchant Shipping. He conveyed a message of genuine friendship to President Jacob Zuma and welcomed Makgetla to Cyprus.
Christofias also commented on recent developments on the issue of gas-and-oil exploration rights in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
"It is with great disappointment that we witnessed last week Turkey’s conclusion of an ‘agreement’ with the illegal regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, to pursue exploration within the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This action constitutes a provocation, not only for the Republic of Cyprus, but also for the entire international community," he said.
Turkey's seismic research ship K. Piri Reis was sent to Cyprus waters on September 26th where it conducted seismic tests. It is currently located in the waters between Cyprus and Israel, in Cyprus' EEZ. Turkey disputes the government's right over its sovereign territory, saying it is defending Turkish-Cypriot rights to the island's natural resources. But its actions and threats to build up its arms in the Eastern Mediterranean have been condemned by the EU, Greece, Israel and Russia, all of which support the government's position based on the International Law of the Sea.