Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos called on Turkey to end its illegal acitivities within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) during talks on Thursday evening with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of a Council of Europe ministerial meeting in Helsinki.
The meeting took place during a period of heightened tensions between the two countries, due to the presence of the Fatih drillship in Cyprus’ EEZ and Turkish exercises in the Aegean.
Earlier, Katrougalos reiterated Greece’s support for Turkey’s long-stalled bid to join the European Union in an interview with Politico.
“We’re among the few European countries that still believe in that,” he said. He noted, however, that Turkey “must first respect their obligations,” stressing that accession hinges on Ankara respecting “not just international law but also the rule of law and human rights.”
However, tensions were raised a notch yesterday after Turkey’s Foreign Ministry accused Greece of sheltering terrorists, following the acquittal by a Greek court of nine Turkish nationals, all ethnic Kurds, who had been accused of being members of a terrorist organization.
“The acquittal reveals why these terrorist elements are nested in Greece,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy in a written statement.
This decision, he said, “is clearly interrupting” the efforts to combat terrorism in Europe.
The suspects had been arrested and placed in pretrial detention ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greece in December 2017, on suspicion of having links to the DHKP/C, a Turkish far-left group blamed for a string of attacks and suicide bombings in Turkey since 1990.