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Politics

Cyprus Wants EU Naval Presence in Seas to Thwart Turkey

NICOSIA — Cyprus Defense Minister Savvas Angelides, after briefing his European Union peers about Turkey's drilling for energy in the island's sovereign waters, said the bloc should have more a naval presence as a deterrence.

There has been appetite from the EU, however, to take on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even exempting him and top officials from soft sanctions aimed at convincing Turkey to stop the drilling, which hasn't worked. 

The EU has a border patrol called Frontex but that is designed to keep out migrants and refugees, which has failed as well, with Greek islands overrun by them, sent there by Turkey during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU.

Turkey is supposed to hold 5.5 million refugees and migrants who went there fleeing war and strife from their homelands but has allowed human traffickers to keep operating at the same time Erdogan sent energy ships into Cypriot waters, undeterred.

He was speaking at a teleconference between EU defense ministers who discussed ways of increasing the bloc’s involvement at the operational level as well as defensive initiatives and structures under the Common Defense and Security Policy.

Angelides said the EU's operational commitment should step up, reported Kathimerini Cyprus, but it wasn't said what that would entail, such as warships from EU member countries as the bloc doesn't have a common military.

France, with the French energy company Total having a license to drill in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) has sent ships to the area but Italy's navy hasn't moved to protect the Italy company ENI there.

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