Greece sticks by Cyprus over gas exploration plans

Greece displayed its support for Cyprus on Thursday during a meeting of the two countries? foreign ministers in Athens in the wake of Turkey warning Nicosia not to proceed with plans to explore for gas off the island?s southern coast.

Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis met with Erato Kozakou-Markoulli during her first visit as Cyprus?s chief diplomat since being appointed in last week?s cabinet reshuffle. Lambrinidis said that total coordination with Cyprus on all issues was a ?cornerstone? of the Greek government?s policies.

He said that Turkey was an obstacle to finding a solution on divided Cyprus and also slammed Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for saying Ankara would ?show the appropriate reaction? if Nicosia explored for gas in its territorial waters.

Lambrinidis added that it was Cyprus?s ?self-evident sovereign right? to make use of its natural resources and he called on Turkey to refrain from making threats and to adopt the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Markoulli said Nicosia had already asked Poland, which holds the rotating presidency for the European Union, to arrange for Turkey?s stance to be discussed at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Lambrinidis rejected Turkish reports that Greece had accepted a deal for its territorial waters to only extend to 6 rather than 12 nautical miles in some parts of the Aegean. ?No Greek government has ever made such an agreement with Turkey,? he said.

Lambrinidis also met on Thursday with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi. No statements were made afterward but it was seen as an attempt to re-establish communication between Muammar Gadhafi?s regime and Europe.