In his response to Bill Papastergiadis’ letter (dated 21 August) to the Prime Minister encouraging the Australian Government to engage in the concerning developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Government on behalf of the PrimeMinister replied as follows:
“The Government is aware of tensions between Turkey and Greece, including Turkey’s
exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. We share the international community’s
concern about the potential escalation of the situation and support a peaceful resolution, through
dialogue and negotiation, in accordance with international law, including the United Nations
Convention of the Law of the Sea. Australia regularly reaffirms with Turkish counterparts the
importance we attach to the rule of law.
The Government supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and
recognises the Republic as the only legitimate authority on the island. Australia does not
recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.
Australia and Greece have a warm and enduring relationship built on strong people-to-people
links and binds forged in war. Australians of Greek descent have made a special contribution to
developing and enriching contemporary Australia, across many areas of the Australian society
including politics, sports, the arts, food, and fashion.”
Greek Community of Melbourne president Bill Papastergiadis thanked the Australian
Government for its response and went on to say:
“It is good to see that the Australian Government is - as we would expect - across the growing
tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, we believe that more can be done and that it is
in Australia’s interest to seek through its excellent diplomatic channels a peaceful resolution to
the questions at hand.
It is heartening to see that the Australian Government has reaffirmed its position on the issue of
the rule of law with its Turkish counterparts insisting that Turkey comply with International Law
including the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and that it continues to recognise
the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate authority on the island.
However, it is also important that the Australian Government reaffirms that integral to Cyprus’
territorial integrity is the surrounding waters of the island, as dictated in the aforementioned UN