Greece Says EU Will Answer Turkey's Drilling Off Cyprus

Αssociated Press

FILE- In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

With Turkey already ignoring soft European Union sanctions for drilling for energy in Cypriot sovereign waters – also defying the United States – Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the bloc's top diplomats will decide what the next step should be.

Greece, along with Turkey and the United Kingdom – the former Colonial ruler which still has military bases on the island – is a guarantor of security, a system Turkey wants to keep as it has a 35,000-strong army on the occupied northern third.

Cyprus has licensed foreign companies, including the United States' ExxonMobil, to hunt for oil and gas in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize as it has sent in two ships to look, with warships having been sent nearby for protection.

Dendias said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that Turkey's actions flout international law and aren't those of a modern, European country founded on the rule of law. Turkey has been trying to join the EU since 2005 even though it refuses to recognize Cyprus – a member – and bars its ships and planes.

The EU has already imposed some sanctions against Turkey for earlier drilling activity in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. Cyprus called Turkey's latest drilling bid a "severe escalation,” but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been unstoppable and threatened to unleash 5.5 million refugees and migrants on the bloc – through Greek islands – if pressed.

Turkey said it's defending its interests to the area's hydrocarbon reserves as well as those of breakaway Turkish-Cypriots in an occupied territory no other country in the world recognizes and as Erdogan has quickly stepped up provocations with no one moving to stop him so far.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)