Fear of in­ci­dent off coast of Cyprus

Ni­cosia dis­misses fears that Ankara will stage trou­ble dur­ing gas ex­trac­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Cyprus yes­ter­day dis­missed con­cerns em­a­nat­ing from the Geek De­fense Min­istry that Tur­key will pro­voke a danger­ous es­ca­la­tion in ten­sion when France’s To­tal com­pany be­gins ex­tract­ing nat­u­ral gas in the is­land’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters this com­ing June.

Ac­cord­ing to a leak to jour­nal­ists by se­nior De­fense Min­istry sources, Athens is in­creas­ingly con­cerned that there could be “mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity of Turk­ish forces when ex­trac­tion be­gins.” But when asked about th­ese con­cerns, Cyprus gov­ern­ment spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said Ni­cosia is not con­sid­er­ing such a sce­nario. He also said that he had talked about the is­sue with For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias and was re­as­sured that Athens is not work­ing on this as­sump­tion. How­ever, crit­ics and op­po­si­tion party lead­ers were quick to state that De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos was be­hind the leaks. “The ‘prediction’ by Kam­menos of an in­ci­dent with Tur­key shows that the dis­tance be­tween be­ing col­or­ful and be­ing ex­treme right wing is very slim in­deed,” said Stavros Theodor­akis, the leader of the cen­trist Po­tami party, which also is­sued a state­ment say­ing that its con­cerns stem not from what Kam­menos leaks to jour­nal­ists, but rather from what he says and what in­struc­tions such an “ir­re­spon­si­ble man” gives to the army and Greek of­fi­cers.

As ten­sions run high due to Tur­key’s stand­off­ish be­hav­ior in re­cent months, many crit­ics across the board have openly ques­tioned whether Kam­menos, the leader of the pop­ulist ANEL party, has the tem­per­ment to deal with the sit­u­a­tion, given that the gov­ern­ment is aim­ing for a low-key ap­proach.

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