Ankara turns up heat

Ten­sions sim­mer as min­istry slams Tsipras crit­i­cism of Turkey’s stance on Cyprus

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Ten­sions be­tween Greece and Turkey over Ankara’s ob­jec­tions to Cyprus’s right to drill for nat­u­ral gas off its coast spiked again yes­ter­day when the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry took a sharp jab at Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras over his crit­i­cism of Ankara’s stance.

“We re­turn ver­ba­tim the in­ap­pro­pri­ate ex­pres­sions... of Greek Prime Min­is­ter Mr Alexis Tsipras,” Turkey’s min­istry said in a state­ment, an ap­par­ent re­ac­tion to com­ments by Tsipras liken­ing Turk­ish state­ments fol­low­ing the col­lapse of Cyprus peace talks to a bark­ing guard dog. “Such words be­fit nei­ther the per­son­al­ity of Prime Min­is­ter Mr Tsipras nor the of­fice he holds,” the min­istry added.

In his com­ments on Thursday, Tsipras had de­cried Turkey’s stance as that of a neigh­bor that does not re­spect in­ter­na­tional law. “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,” Tsipras said. “We don’t bark that much, but, I be­lieve, we ef­fec­tively de­fend our coun­try’s sov­er­eign rights,” he added.

Mean­while, Turkey re­tained a pres­ence off the Bay of Mor­phou in the eastern Mediter­ranean close to the Cyprus drilling ex­er­cise in the form of the Bar­baros re­search ves­sel. En­ergy Min­is­ter Berat Al­bayrak de­clared that Turkey will hence­forth play a more ac­tive role in the Mediter­ranean. “You can­not try to give or­ders and take ac­tion as you like in the re­gion,” Al­bayrak said, in­di­cat­ing that the Cyprus’s drilling for gas was a “provo­ca­tion.”

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesper­son Maja Ko­ci­jan­cic ap­pealed to all sides to avoid ac­tions or state­ments that could un­der­mine good neigh­borly re­la­tions or fuel ten­sions in the re­gion, em­pha­siz­ing the need for chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to re­main open.

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