NEWS

Davutoglu in Athens amid rising tensions over Cyprus gas [Update]

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Athens on Friday afternoon for talks with his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras, and participation in the 3rd Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, as tensions rise over Ankara’s violation of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Ahead of his talks with Samaras on Friday, Davutoglu met President Karolos Papoulias who stressed the importance of good relations. “We are and will remain neighbors and therefore we must be good neighbors,” Papoulias said. “You’re right, it’s possible to change everything except geographical location,” Davutoglu responded.

The visit came as Cypriot media report that the Turkish research vessel Barbaros has detected large quantities of hydrocarbons in the Cypriot EEZ.

In an interview with Kathimerini ahead of the visit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated that Turkey will not back down from its position that Cyprus will have to stop exploring for hydrocarbons in its exclusive economic zone for the Turkish research vessel Barbaros to depart the area. He added that he was optimistic that stalled Cyprus talks would resume.

Davutoglu, who was flanked by some 10 Turkish ministers on his visit, was to meet Samaras at the Maximos Mansion before addressing a joint business forum at 8.30 p.m. and co-chairing the high-level council on Saturday with Samaras.

Security was increased in the capital ahead of Davutoglu’s visit and amid fears of protests to commemorate the killing of a teenager by a policeman on Saturday and against a scheduled parliamentary vote on next year’s budget on Sunday.