Government talks tough on Aegean but divisions remain

Government talks tough on Aegean but divisions remain

Despite the government's position that Greece must avoid a clash and seek an outlet through diplomatic channels,  Athens has toughened its rhetoric toward Turkey, with government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos warning on Friday that Greece will respond to any further acts of aggression.

“If there is another act of Turkish aggression on Greek territory, there will be a response and there is no other way for us,” he told Skai TV on Friday morning.

Tensions between the two neighbors escalated this week after a Turkish vessel rammed a Hellenic Coast Guard boat off the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean on Monday night.

Tzanakopoulos’s remarks followed similar tough statements on Thursday night by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who said that Turkey “touched the red line and in some sense crossed it.” He also warned Ankara that the next time it acts aggressively, Greece will not respond in the same peaceful manner.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s naval blockade off Cyprus that has prevented Italian company Eni from drilling in Block 3 of the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) entered its seventh day Friday. Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said that Europe, France, Cyprus and Turkey were discussing the situation. “It’s not really under our control,” Reuters cited him as saying.

Despite the uncertainty in the region, US oil giant ExxonMobil said Friday that it will send two surveying vessels to Cyprus’s EEZ. Cyprus Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said the US firm contacted Nicosia insisting that it will meet its commitments regarding its rights in Block 10 of the Cypriot EEZ through its consortium with Qatar Petroleum.

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