Ahead of Friday’s crucial meeting between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar issued new threats against Nicosia Thursday, saying that no one should “test our strength, our force, as the price will be heavy.”
“We will keep on saying it. We will not allow Turkey’s or the Turkish-Cypriots’ rights to be violated. They must really understand our determination and our will,” he said during a visit to the occupied part of Cyprus to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the bombing of the region of Tylliria by the Turkish Air Force at the height of the island’s intercommunal clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
He nonetheless insisted that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have extended their hand in peace.
“We are awaiting an answer to this hand. We hope that all relevant parties, especially the Greek Cypriots, understand our conciliatory and sincere approach and respond in kind,” Akar said. This way, he said, “new stories of peace” could be written on the island.
He also reiterated that the island’s hydrocarbon reserves must be shared between Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots in the island’s occupied north.
His remarks, following the announcement on Wednesday by Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez that a second exploration vessel will be dispatched to the island, is seen as a bid by Ankara to amp up the pressure on Anastasiades ahead of Friday’s meeting with Akinci.
Meanwhile in Athens Thursday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi and discussed the imminent completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), as well as the EastMed pipeline via which Greece, Israel and Cyprus want to transfer natural gas from the East Med to Italy and other parts of Europe. Dendias said they also discussed Turkey’s violations of Cyprus’ territorial waters.