Greece and Cyprus accused rival Turkey on Thursday of stoking tensions as Ankara prepared to dispatch a drillship to the Mediterranean next month in a search for natural gas.
Relations between Athens and Ankara are strained over a raft of issues ranging from overflights to disputed waters.
Cyprus, split along ethnic lines for nearly five decades, is a key point of division, deepened in recent years by overlapping and competing claims over offshore waters believed to contain large quantities of natural gas.
Turkey is set to send a drillship into the Mediterranean in early August in search of gas.
“We expect it to come,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told journalists after meeting his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Nicosia. “We discussed [taking] certain actions in the hope that this would avert the creation of any tensions in our exclusive economic zone.”
Nicosia would act in concert with its EU partners on the best course of action, Kasoulides said
There was, he said, a “crescendo of harsh and provocative rhetoric” from Ankara, adding: “We are keeping the tone down.”
Cyprus was partitioned in 1974 when Turkey invaded its northern third. Both Greece and Turkey are guarantor powers of Cypriot independence, along with Britain.
Seeds of division were sown earlier, when a partnership of Greek and Turkish Cypriots in government crumbled three years after the former British colony gained independence.
Both Kasoulides and Dendias compared events in Cyprus to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Dendias said the comparison ended there.
“Forty-eight years ago, the international community did not respond to the invasion in Cyprus in the way it should have,” said Dendias. “And we have to remind everyone that the invasion of Ukraine is not the only case of invasion in Europe.” [Reuters]