Unable to get Turkey to budge from drilling for oil and gas in its waters, Cyprus is ready to talk about it with Turkey but wouldn't name the country in a vague statement it would engage with neighboring countries over sea rights.
Ignoring soft European Union sanctions that haven't been a deterrent – and the bloc reluctant to get tougher – Turkey has moved as well near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, planning to drill there under a maritime deal signed with Libya.
The provocations have been stepped up by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the EU has scrambled to do something other than issue press releases and tweets supporting Cyprus and Greece.
After Cypriot officials called out the EU for being too soft and trying to appease Erdogan, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said the legitimate government on the island where Turkey has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion was willing to try dialogue again, which hasn't worked yet.
He didn't refer to Turkey by name – with no explanation why – but said that the island has maritime deals with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon “and was ready to discuss with other neighboring states on establishing sea zones.”
Turkey is its closest neighbor and the only country it does not have a deal with, bar war-ravaged Syria. “This would be on the basis of international law and the 1982 Law of the Sea,” Christodoulides said, referring to a United Nations treaty that Turkey doesn't recognize unless invoking to its advantage.
Since Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus – a member of the EU that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005 – and bars its ships and planes, the offer for negotiations was likely to be ignored, said Reuters in a report.
Christodoulides was speaking in Nicosia following talks with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who also urged the EU to sanction Turkey or do something other than hold teleconferences and talk without action.
“This escalation of Turkish aggression is directed against the European Union, and consequently, there should be an escalation of the European reaction to counter it,” Dendias also said.
Turkey disputes parts of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and sent an energy ship and warships off the coast without a response from the EU other than mild sanctions on executives of Turkey's state-run petroleum company.