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Greece, US Troubled Turkey Moved Energy Search Vessel Off Cyprus

Αssociated Press

FILE - Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, left, shakes hands with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides before their meeting in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - After pulling back plans to hunt for energy off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, Turkey has sent another vessel off the coast of Cyprus where it had been drilling, the move irking Greece and the United States.

The presence of the Turkish seismic research vessel Barbaros in Cypriot waters is a “blatant violation” of the European Union member-state’s sovereign rights, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said, not offering to do anything about it.

Dendias was speaking on Antenna television hours after the Barbaros was spotted off the coast of Famagusta on the morning of July 30, further inflaming relations after Turkey's decision not to go into Greek waters and offering talks brought calm.

Greece and Turkey, said Dendias, “are in a phase of discussions and contacts, but no formal dialogue has started as yet,” nor did he offer a timetable after Turkey, before the pullback, offered diplomacy but without concessions on its part.

“If these contacts succeed, we will proceed with a relaunch of negotiations,” Dendias said, but added that Greece will not engage in dialogue while being “blackmailed,” by Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

A Turkish seismic research vessel was sailing off the coast of Cyprus after Turkey issued a navigational telex (NAVTEX) reserving parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) drawing verbal fire from the United States.

“The United States remains deeply troubled by Turkey’s intended plans to explore for natural resources within Cyprus’ waters. Such provocative actions increase tension in the region,” an unnamed State Department official was reported as telling Greek journalists, in translated comments, said Kathimerini.

“We urge the Turkish authorities to cease these operations,” the spokesperson was reported as saying although that's as far as the US has been willing to go and there was no immediate reaction from the EU, reluctant to confront Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, fearful he will flood the bloc again with more refugees and migrants.