Gas ac­ri­mony con­tin­ues

Athens in war of words with Ankara over lat­ter’s threats against Cyprus drilling

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The ac­ri­mony be­tween Greece and Turkey over Ankara’s ob­jec­tions to Cyprus’s right to drill for nat­u­ral gas within its ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ) con­tin­ued yes­ter­day with Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu threat­en­ing to take ac­tion against the Greek Cypri­ots for act­ing “uni­lat­er­ally.”

The threats em­a­nat­ing from Ankara drew a stern re­sponse from Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, who likened Turk­ish state­ments – since talks to re­unify the is­land col­lapsed last week – to a bark­ing guard dog.

“I re­mem­ber a say­ing that I al­ways keep in my mind, that the best guard dog is not the one that barks...good guard dogs don’t need to bark,” he said dur­ing joint state­ments with Ser­bian Prime Min­is­ter Alek­san­dar Vu­cic in Thes­sa­loniki, ahead of yes­ter­day’s tri­lat­eral sum­mit of Greek, Bul­gar­ian and Ser­bian lead­ers. “We don’t bark that much, but, I be­lieve, we ef­fec­tively de­fend our coun­try’s sov­er­eign rights,” he added.

Re­fer­ring to the failed talks at the Swiss re­sort of Crans-Mon­tana, Tsipras de­cried Turkey’s stance as that of a neigh­bor that does not re­spect in­ter­na­tional law, and re­it­er­ated that Greece is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sions to reach an agree­ment.

Athens has blamed the break­down on Turkey’s in­sis­tence to main­tain rights of in­ter­ven­tion on Cyprus and to keep its troops there in the event of a set­tle­ment, in con­tra­ven­tion of in­ter­na­tional law.

Ear­lier in the day, Cavu­soglu said that Turkey was con­sid­er­ing steps against Ni­cosia for mov­ing ahead with drilling op­er­a­tions for nat­u­ral gas, to which, he added, Turk­ish Cypriot also have rights to.

Cavu­soglu made his re­marks a day after the West Capella drilling ves­sel, op­er­ated by France’s To­tal and Italy’s Eni, ar­rived in block 11 of Cyprus’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ) to com­mence op­er­a­tions. He said the ship’s ar­rival demon­strated the “in­sin­cer­ity” of the Greek Cypri­ots at the Cyprus peace talks which col­lapsed last Friday.

As re­ported by Kathimerini on Wednesday, the drilling ship’s move­ments are be­ing mon­i­tored from a dis­tance by the Turk­ish frigates Gokceada and Gaziantep, but there have been no re­ports of ha­rass­ment.

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