Greece has rejected threats from Turkey over Cyprus’ plans for offshore drilling operations within the Mediterranean island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as “unacceptable” and “provocative.”
“It is an oxymoron, to say the least, that a country which threatens to declare war on Greece if our country exercises its legal rights, which on an almost daily basis violates the sovereignty and sovereign rights [of Greece] and of the Cyprus Republic, and which utters unacceptable and provocative statements and threats, at the same time accuses us of destabilizing the Eastern Mediterranean,” a diplomatic source said Friday.
“Our country will continue to act with the exclusive purpose of defending its national interests and of promoting security and stability in the wider region, guided by respect for international law and, in particular, the International Law of the Sea,” the source said, rejecting Turkey’s claims as “baseless.”
On Thursday, Turkey again accused Greece and Cyprus of taking “steps that increase tensions,” threatening to intervene in any Nicosia action to drill in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In a statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry Tanju Bilgic spoke of an attempt to send research ships to the “Turkish continental shelf.”
Bilgic said that Ankara was responding to the challenges both on the field and at the table [of negotiations] and would not allow the rights it claims to have to be violated. He also said that Ankara “will continue to give answers” if Cyprus starts drilling.
On Friday, the Nautical Geo, a Greek-Cypriot research vessel under the Maltese flag, entered block 1 within Cyprus’ EEZ. The biggest part of the block lies south of Cyprus’ southern Limassol district.
The ship, which was until Thursday anchored off the town of Larnaca, is set to conduct seismic surveys in line with the navigational telex (Navtex) issued by Nicosia.