Less than three weeks before national elections, the poll-trailing Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the European Union must stand together if Turkey persists in drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.
Ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg, Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said in an article in Ta Nea that, “Our country has traditionally pursued a foreign policy that is based on respect for international law. This obviously does not suggest yieldingness. We are steadily warding off any revisionist attempt and we insist on resolving differences through dialogue.”
That hasn’t worked against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is openly defiant of diplomatic approaches as Katrougalos said the escalation of Turkey’s provocations “are not a sign of strength but of weakness.”
That came after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said if Turkey goes ahead with drilling that the EU should take “specific measures” he wouldn’t specify before he later said sanctions should be on the table.
Katrougalos said Greece and Cyprus are seeking to prompt the EU into toughening its line on Turkish drilling inside the Mediterranean island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ.)
“There has to be confirmation that Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its EEZ are also EU sovereign rights,” he said.
But he said SYRIZA would take a double-barreled approach, asking for the EU to be tough while Athens tries going tender with Erdogan, wary he will unleash on Greek islands more refugees and migrants who came to Turkey, fleeing war and strife in other countries.
Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis said despite the growing tensions and fears of a military conflict – Greece and Turkey are guarantors of security on Cyprus along with the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which has military bases there – that there won’t be a confrontation.
Speaking in an interview with Antenna TV, Greece’s former armed forces chief advised calm and said that Greece is focused on “putting a stop to Turkey’s provocative actions where they are right now,” without explaining how since he doesn’t want to use the military and talking to Erdogan isn’t working either.
Apostolakis was responding to a question about the possibility of Turkey taking a more aggressive stance in Greek territory but had no answers how to prevent it right now.