Tensions between Greece and Turkey over Ankara’s objections to Cyprus’s right to drill for natural gas off its coast spiked again yesterday when the Turkish Foreign Ministry took a sharp jab at Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over his criticism of Ankara’s stance.
“We return verbatim the inappropriate expressions… of Greek Prime Minister Mr Alexis Tsipras,” Turkey’s ministry said in a statement, an apparent reaction to comments by Tsipras likening Turkish statements following the collapse of Cyprus peace talks to a barking guard dog.
“Such words befit neither the personality of Prime Minister Mr Tsipras nor the office he holds,” the ministry added.
In his comments on Thursday, Tsipras had decried Turkey’s stance as that of a neighbor that does not respect international law. “I remember a saying that I always keep in my mind, that the best guard dog is not the one that barks…good guard dogs don’t need to bark,” Tsipras said.
“We don’t bark that much, but, I believe, we effectively defend our country’s sovereign rights,” he added.
Meanwhile, Turkey retained a presence off the Bay of Morphou in the eastern Mediterranean close to the Cyprus drilling exercise in the form of the Barbaros research vessel.
Energy Minister Berat Albayrak declared that Turkey will henceforth play a more active role in the Mediterranean. “You cannot try to give orders and take action as you like in the region,” Albayrak said, indicating that the Cyprus’s drilling for gas was a “provocation.”
European Commission spokesperson Maja Kocijancic appealed to all sides to avoid actions or statements that could undermine good neighborly relations or fuel tensions in the region, emphasizing the need for channels of communication to remain open.