In the wake of what Athens has hailed as a successful European Union summit for Greece and Cyprus, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned Friday that Turkey could face consequences from the bloc if it did not desist from its provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a statement Thursday, the European Council called Turkey’s drilling in Cyprus’s EEZ “illegal,” stressing that Europe “stands ready to respond appropriately” with measures.
Tsipras, who appeared particularly satisfied by the statement of support, told reporters Friday that it was “the first time after decades of international violations of international law by Turkey that the EU, after coordinated actions by Greece and Cyprus, has condemned Turkish actions in such a clear and decisive manner.”
He also said that the “stern” message to Turkey is accompanied by targeted measures by the EU for the first time.
Tsipras did not disclose what these measures could entail and deferred reporters to the next General Affairs Council meeting of EU foreign ministers. He did however hint that the measures could lead to serious economic consequences for Turkey.
He compared Thursday’s statement to what he called the EU’s more neutral stance during the 1996 crisis over the Aegean islets of Imia which brought the two countries to the brink of war.
This “turnaround in favor of our national positions,” he said, was due to his government’s foreign policy that gave Greece influence in the region, the EU and the wider international arena.
He cited the Prespes agreement signed with North Macedonia and the subsequent military agreements signed between Athens and Skopje. The deal, he added, ensured that Greek jets are flying over North Macedonia and not Turkish ones.
However, Tsipras did send a conciliatory message, saying that he intends to keep channels of communication with Ankara open, and also expressed hope that if Turkey stops its disruptive behavior, talks could begin again for the reunification of war-divided Cyprus.