Greece to boost naval presence off Cyprus

Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Wednesday that Greece is planning to boost its naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean with a frigate and a submarine but said the move would be a contribution to NATO and United Nations-backed missions in the region, not a response to a Turkish bid to prospect in waters where Cyprus already has a license to drill for oil and gas.

“All our initiatives are initiatives of political diplomacy aimed at maintaining stability and peace in the region,” Venizelos told reporters in Nicosia. He added that all countries in the region must work toward the same aim. “That is also our message to the Turkish side,” he said.

Venizelos met with his Cypriot and Egyptian counterparts, Ioannis Kasoulides and Sameh Hassan Shoukry, for talks that focused on offshore energy rights and exclusive economic zones. The three diplomats subsequently issued a joint statement essentially condemning Ankara, saying they “deplored the recent illegal actions perpetrated within Cyprus’s EEZ, as well as the unauthorized seismic operations being conducted therein.”

“Any unilateral actions further undermine the stability and security of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East area,” they added.

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