ATHENS – The Greek Foreign Ministry said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increased provocations over the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean and plans to drill for energy is increasing a risk of conflict.
“The Turkish provocations undermine the stability of the region at a crucial juncture and demonstrate the paucity of Turkey’s legal arguments,” the ministry said in a statement, with Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras also the Foreign Minister with the departure of Nikos Kotzias, who quit after the Premier backed Defense Minister Panos Kammenos over him in policy disputes.
The statement – Tsipras doesn’t give news conferences or take questions from reporters, with ministries operating through press releases – came after Erdogan, upset that Greece planned to extend its sea borders in the Ionian from 6 to 12 miles and with foreign energy companies drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus said he wouldn’t tolerate it and would authorize Turkish drilling.
“The reckless behavior of Greece – supported by European states – acting together with the Greek-Cypriot administration is a danger and above all a threat to themselves,” Erdogan said a day after Cyprus announced that energy giants Total and Eni had jointly bid for another license to explore and exploit oil and gas reserves off the island.
“We will use our rights under international law and conventions to the end. And we are determined to put anyone who wants to stop us in their place,” he warned.
The Foreign Ministry in Athens however insisted that Greece “is not going to be influenced by the neighboring country’s outbursts of aggressive rhetoric,” said Kathimerini.
“On the contrary, as a factor of stability and security in the region, Greece will continue, in collaboration with its allies and partners, to defend international law and its own inalienable rights,” it said, adding that “the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean countries recognize that energy must be a bridge of dialogue and cooperation in our region. Instead of insisting on threats and on its illegal claims and challenges, Turkey ought to adhere to this responsible stance.”