Ankara is continuing with its strategy of fueling tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, announcing its intention to send a second drill ship off Cyprus, while Turkish jets violated Greek airspace in the Aegean on Monday.
The announcement by Berat Albayrak – Turkey’s finance minister and son-in-law to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – that Ankara will be sending the drill ship Yavuz to join the Fatih off the coast of Cyprus, came on Sunday just before on Monday’s launch by Turkey of its annual Sea Wolf military exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, on Monday expressed “great concern” over Turkey’s plans to drill off Cyprus. “We call urgently on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the EU will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” she said.
The foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus, Giorgos Katrougalos and Nikos Christodoulides, broached the issue of Turkey’s illegal activities in the region before the EU’s foreign affairs council in Brussels on Monday. Katrougalos stressed that Greece will back Cyprus “with all the available means at its disposal” and said he expected the EU to do the same.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras referred to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean on Monday, describing Turkey as “erratic and aggressive,” and repeated that Ankara should be open to dialogue instead.
Defense officials on Monday recorded two violations of Greek airspace by Turkish F-16s over Chios and Oinousses in the eastern Aegean.