Erdogan’s Turkey has been warning us for years, in the familiar, brutal and extortionist manner that is its specialty, not to open the chapter relating to hydrocarbons in Cyprus. Or, if we open it, we can exploit it cooperatively.
Of course, the Cypriots are proceeding, as they have every right to do so, since the hydrocarbons are in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, in the sovereign waters of the Republic of Cyprus.
However, there is a difference between being able to do something, and deciding to do it. The same is true of having the right to do something and being able to act on that right.
Now the Turks are carrying out their threats. The Foreign Minister announced on Saturday that a ship named Fatih (the conqueror) will start drilling in the territorial waters of Cyprus. They have, they say, the right as cohabiters of the Island.
How do we stop them?
Can we enforce our rights?
Well, we are running to get the support of the UN, Europe, and International Law.
And we got a response. They support us – with declarations.
After all Cyprus is a member of the European Union. But does the EU have an army? Will the five permanent members of the UN Security Council agree to force Turkey to withdraw the Fatih?
NATO, of course, has armed forces. But, first we must point out that Cyprus is not a member. Turkey is a member, and of course Greece is. And each member has the right to veto collective actions.
But is not strange that Cyprus is not a member of the greatest military grouping since the Athenian Alliance?
In any case, there is a ray of light in this difficult situation.
It is the crystal clear statement of support from the United States government.
A statement that is somewhat surprisingly strong when compared to the worn-out, vague positions of the State Department regarding Greek-Turkish matters that we have long been familiar with.
The State Department spokesman said: “The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone. This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint.”
Ultimately, however, only the presence of powerful Greek armed forces will act as a deterrent to Ankara’s plans.