Mattis heaps praise on Greece as Turkey announces gas exploration off Cyprus


Ahead of a meeting Tuesday with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, US Defense Secretary James Mattis praised Greece as a “solid” and “excellent” ally and described Souda Bay base on the island of Crete as “one of our most important ports of call in the Mediterranean.”

The meeting of the two men came as Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said Tuesday that Ankara will begin gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean by the end of October.

He also warned that Turkey will “protect until the end our resources deriving from international law.”

Last week, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said that it will not allow foreign energy companies to pursue gas exploration off Cyprus’s coast.

Nicosia had earlier invited energy companies to bid for a new license to drill for gas in Block 7 of its exclusive economic zone.

American energy company ExxonMolbil said last week that it will begin drilling off Cyprus by the end of the year.