NEWS

Greece, Cyprus seeking EU summit support against Turkey

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Diplomacy, Turkey, EU

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heads to Brussels on Thursday confident that the two-day summit of European Union leaders will agree to take specific measures against Turkey if it continues its “provocative” behavior within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Tsipras’ optimism stems to a great degree from the call by the General Affairs Council (GAC) on Tuesday for “appropriate measures” against Turkey, which government sources have described as “especially positive.”

Having agreed on a common strategy with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Tsipras said in an interview with Open TV  that he believes “very clear decisions will be taken in Brussels and possibly even measures, if Turkey continues its provocative behavior.”

Asked how Greece will react if Turkey also moves to drill off the southeastern Aegean island of Kastellorizo, Tsipras said, “I believe Turkey won’t do it.”

“We won’t allow [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] to do it,” Tsipras said. “We have a plan.”

The government is also reportedly confident that if clear decisions are taken at the summit with regard to Turkey, it will further deepen Greece’s strong alliances.

Tsipras said that Turkey’s behavior is a result of its desire to grab a share of the region’s energy resources, and insisted that Ankara has not grasped the “new realities.”

“And the reality is that Cyprus is no longer a small defenseless state in the middle of the Mediterranean, but an EU member-state.”

For his part, Turkish Foreign Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted by the state-run Anadolu Agency as saying on Wednesday that the “only thing” Ankara wants is to “guarantee that the rights of Turkish Cypriots are accepted by the Greek-Cypriot administration, Greece, the EU and everyone else.”

Speaking in Ankara, Cavusoglu said, “We won’t have any trouble sharing the wealth [in the region].” Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos discussed Turkey’s drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in a phone call on Wednesday.

Katrougalos reportedly said it is important for the international community to stress that these activities have to cease. Moreover, Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis said Wednesday that Greece, along with Cyprus, the EU and other international actors, is taking all necessary action to address Turkey’s activities.

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