NEWS

Athens accuses Ankara of fueling tension in the region

TAGS: Diplomacy, Cyprus, Turkey

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos has accused Turkey of not contributing to stability in the region in the wake of further tension between Athens and Ankara.

The official’s comments on Tuesday came a few hours after a Turkish coast guard vessel rammed a Greek patrol boat off the Imia islets in the Aegean. No injuries were reported.

The incident occurred late on Monday night, soon after Turkish warships stopped a drillship belonging to Italian energy giant ENI from exploring for gas in Block 3 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece and Cyprus on Tuesday not to “step out of line” with regard to the Aegean and hydrocarbon exploration.

"Opportunistic attempts concerning gas exploration off Cyprus and concerning Aegean islets are not escaping our attention," Erdogan told MPs from his AKP party. "We are warning those who step out of line with miscalculations in Cyprus and the Aegean.

Athens accused Erdogan of fueling tension in the region.

“There is tension in Turkey and some very difficult problems for Mr Erdogan and his government to deal with, which include a general destabilisation in the broader area around Turkey,” said Tzanakopoulos. “With its behaviour, Turkey is not contributing to this unrest being overcome. In fact, it is doing the opposite.”

The Greek government spokesman would not be drawn on whether Athens fears a potential conflict with Turkey in the Aegean.

“We have to be very careful and to follow developments,” he told Alpha radio. “Beyond that, there is no need to pour oil on the lames. What is called for is calm and clear heads and a serious management of the situation.”

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