Greece, Cyprus Foreign Chiefs Denounce Turkey's Drilling Plans


Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias speaks at the Press on Monday, during joint statements with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides, after their meeting in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS -- Just as exploratory talks are set to resume in Ankara between Greek and Turkish officials, the foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus slammed Turkey for continuing to hunt for oil and gas in the East Mediterranean and planning to do the same around Greek islands.

“Greece does not pose a threat to anyone, nor will it be bullied by illegal actions,”Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said. “It will protect its sovereignty (and) its sovereign rights in accordance with international law and the law of the sea,” he added, said Kathimerini.

He spoke out despite the scheduled talks on Oct. 6 in Turkey, a 63d round after the previous 62 over the years have failed to make any essential progress in dealing with differences between the countries.

Dendias rejected Turkish calls for the demilitarization of Greece’s Eastern Aegean islands and accused Turkey of “undermining (the contacts) before they even begin,” signalling another likely stalemate.

He also ripped Turkey and the Turkish-occupied northern third of Cyprus for further reopening the abandoned resort of Varosha that has laid dormant since unlawful 1974 Turkish invasions seized the territory.

Dendias also criticized a recent Turkish announcement regarding energy exploration on Cyprus’ continental shelf. “Turkey’s behavior is not acceptable,” he said, while warning of European sanctions.

But the European Union has been reluctant to get tough on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is exempt from soft sanctions imposed on Turkish state-run energy company officials without any effect.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, who met with Dendias in Athens,  said that Turkey’s recent harassment of the Maltese-flagged Nautical Geo research ship licensed by Greece to work off Crete “demonstrate, even to the most skeptical, that the pleasant-sounding statements that once came from the direction of Turkey are, regrettably, not turning into actions.”

“(Turkey’s) foreign policy is still founded on a revisionist, neo-Ottoman approach, mostly based on the country’s military power,” he said although Cypriot cries for the United Nations to intervene have been ignored.

Despite Turkey's provocations, Greece and Cyprus back the country's hopes of getting into the EU although Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus, which is a member and bars its ships and planes.