Nicosia expects EU, U.S. to act on Turkey, says Anastasiades

Cyprus and Greece are looking to the United States and the EU to act on Turkish aggression in the eastern Mediterranean, Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades told Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Sunday.

Athens and Nicosia have led intense diplomatic efforts, which have “mobilized the interest and concerns of Europe and the United States,’’ Anastasiades said, noting that the next few days are crucial for the latter parties to take specific action on Ankara.

Athens and Nicosia object to Turkey’s claims over drilling rights off the divided island Cyprus, where Turkey currently has two drilling ships and one surveying vessel accompanied by its navy.

Turkey, the only country that recognises a breakaway state in the north of divided Cyprus, says Turkish Cypriots should get their fair share from the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves near the island. Ankara also has territorial claims that overlap Cyprus’ so-called exclusive economic zone.

“Turkey has upgraded its role and has taken precedence in Libya,’’ due to the EU’s inability to express a decisive policy, the Cypriot leader said.

In November, Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a maritime deal that asserts the two countries share a maritime border, ignoring the territorial waters around Cyprus and a number of Greek islands, including Crete. Ankara’s military support for the GNA has in recent weeks turned the tide in the group’s favour in the oil rich country’s ongoing civil war.

The EU cannot continue to watch Ankara’s threats in the region, Anastasiades said, stressing that Nicosia expects further EU sanctions in light of strong objections it has lodged.

In November,  the European Council adopted a framework for restrictive measures in response to Turkey's unauthorised drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, including provisions such as a travel ban to the EU, and asset freezes for persons and entities.

Meanwhile, Germany, which maintains the presidency of the European Council, is preparing to play an active role in easing tensions in the region, Katherimini reported on Monday.

Berlin sees Ankara's claims in waters off Cyprus and Crete as groundless has made clear to Turkey that there can be no dialogue vis-à-vis EU-Turkish relations unless halts its transgressions in the east Mediterranean and scraps plans to drill off the Greek continental shelf, it said, citing reliable resources.