Greece, Cyprus say in perfect sync over ‘disruptor’ Turkey

Greece and Cyprus said on Tuesday they are in perfect sync regarding Turkey’s provocations in the eastern Mediterranean, but seek dialogue with the NATO ally instead of confrontation, the Cyprus Mail reported.

“We seek dialogue, peace and stability,” it quoted Greek Cypriot Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades as saying during a press conference with Greek counterpart Kyriacos Mitsotakis in Athens. 

Turkey is locked in disputes with both Greece and Cyprus over territorial waters in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Turkey has sent two drill ships, escorted by warships, off Cyprus to press its claim to the waters and energy resources there.

Turkey is the “disruptor” in the region, and Greece and Cyprus are merely defending their sovereign rights, Anastasiades said. 

“We will not allow Turkey to prevail in its intention, which is none other than to create an unnecessary crisis,” he said, adding that Nicosia expects the EU to take a more effective intervention.

Last year, the European Union Foreign Affairs Council slapped sanctions on Turkey for what it called illegal drilling around the island of Cyprus. Ankara does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone and claims some of its sections lie on Turkey’s own continental shelf. 

Mitsotakis said he and Anastasiades reviewed developments regarding Ankara’s aggressive posture and called on the EU to draw up a list of specific sanctions against Turkey, a country that “acts like a troublemaker and threatens peace and stability in the region”.

The two leaders also discussed Turkey’s recent decision to turn Hagia Sofia into a mosque, the Cyprus Mail said. 

Ankara’s move is an affront to cultural heritage and incommensurate with Turkey’s secular aspirations, Anastasiades said.

Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdoğan on Friday ordered the conversion of the city's famous Hagia Sophia - built as a Byzantine cathedral in the 6th century - into a mosque after a Turkish court ruled annulled a 1934 presidential decree that made it a museum.

On Saturday, Greece announced it would respond by imposing sanctions against Turkey over the move.