Turkish ship off Cyprus brings fresh tension

Turkish ship off Cyprus brings fresh tension

The mission of the Turkish research ship Barbaros in the Cypriot continental shelf has come to further complicate matters between Athens and Ankara, just days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the suspension of activities of another vessel, the Oruc Reis, in the Greek continental shelf in light of a pending “unconditional” dialogue.

Athens had already dismissed the possibility of “unconditional talks” with Ankara, saying that it is open for dialogue about the continental shelf and maritime zones. 

But the road to dialogue between the two countries was seen to be littered with more obstacles Thursday with the presence of the Turkish ship in Cyprus’ waters and in statements made by Erdogan that Turkish plans in the Eastern Mediterranean will continue “until the end.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discussed the situation in a phone call with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who briefed the Greek premier about the contacts he had in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and the conversation he had, also on the phone, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader announced that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Nicosia on September 8 to discuss developments and to take “joint actions” for peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

For his part, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias assured his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides that Greece would support the imposition of new sanctions against Turkey.

“Greece has clearly stated that it will support the Republic of Cyprus in any way the Republic of Cyprus has requested this support, for example by imposing further sanctions against Turkey,” Dendias said.

A few hours earlier, an unnamed State Department official told a Greek correspondent that the US remains deeply troubled by Turkey’s intended plans to explore for natural resources within Cyprus’ waters. “Such provocative actions increase tension in the region,” the official was quoted as saying.

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