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The Republic of Cyprus is preparing to address with legal measures any new Turkish provocations in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides has said.

Presenting on Thursday the Ministry`s budget for 2017 before the House Committee on Finances, Kasoulides said that the Foreign Ministry together with the Law Office of the Republic are holding meetings to decide how the Republic will react with legal measures in case Turkey resumes its provocation and sends again its seismic research vessel `Barbaros` in Cyprus EEZ, violating the Republic’s sovereign rights in its EEZ.

The Foreign Minister emphasized that the energy sector is one of the most important tools of Cyprus` foreign policy and as a result of that there have been cooperations with other Mediterranean countries. He pointed out that Nicosia is making efforts to turn those tripartite cooperations into a multilateral cooperation.

The great interest demonstrated by major energy companies during the current licensing round for hydrocarbon activities in Cyprus EEZ shows the significance those energy firms attribute on the issue, he said.

Following Cyprus’ decision to explore and exploit its hydrocarbon reserves, Turkey has escalated its reaction some years ago by violating Cyprus` EEZ with its vessel `Barbaros`. Both the EU and the international community had criticised Turkey`s threatening behavior and pointed out that Cyprus has the sovereign right to explore and exploit its natural gas reserves.

Kasoulides also referred to Brexit saying that the Ministry has prepared a study on the issue and that a Ministerial Committee has been set up that will examine any consequences that Britain`s EU exit could possibly have on various Ministries of the Republic.

As regards Russia, he said that further EU sanctions against Moscow are counterproductive and said that Russia has not changed its stance on the Cyprus issue after improving its relations with Turkey. He pointed out that Moscow`s position on Cyprus is steadfast and is based on the relevant UN resolutions while it rejects any pressure for timeframes or the imposition of a solution plan.

He announced that in 2017 Cyprus` embassy in Prague will resume its operations and recalled that four embassies had suspended their operations due to the economic crisis. Kasoulides said that in the meantime it was necessary to open embassies in Saudi Arabia and Canada.

As regards the budget for the Ministry, he said that it provides for expenses of 80.687.906 euro and noted that the actual expenses of the diplomatic missions of the Republic abroad have been reduced by 2,8 million euro, or 15%, compared to 2013 when the economic crisis began.

Concluding, he pointed out that the increase in the Ministry`s budget for 2017 is mainly due to the increase by 1,1 million euro of the contribution to the European Development Fund and the European Development Bank and Cyprus` contribution to Jordan and Lebanon to the support of the refugees.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupi

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