Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are expected to brief European Union leaders on Thursday at the informal European Council in Romania about Turkey’s illegal drilling activities within the Eastern Mediterranean island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which the Cypriot leader has described as tantamount to a “second invasion” – after Turkey troops landed on the island in 1974.
For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained defiant on Tuesday, reportedly saying that Ankara will continue implementing its program in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Given his defiant stance toward EU leaders over the issue, Athens and Nicosia reportedly believe that the only message Turkey would listen to is that of economic pressure by large investor countries like Germany and The Netherlands.
Apart from frictions with Europe, Turkey’s relations with the United States are also on shaky ground over its planned acquisition of the S-400 weapons system from Russia to which Washington is vehemently opposed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed concern Tuesday over escalating tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, while the Russian Embassy in Athens tweeted that Moscow is calling for a “halt in any actions that could raise fresh obstacles toward solving Cyprus issue.”
Meanwhile, Turkey was plunged into renewed turmoil Tuesday, and sharply criticized by the European Union and leading member-states, after its decision to hold a rerun of Istanbul’s mayoral elections, lost by the ruling AKP party.