Turkey trying to control Cypriot energy resources - Greek FM
Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias said Turkey was trying to control energy resources in the waters off Cyprus, the Cyprus Mail said.
The Greek foreign minister said Ankara’s purchase of new vessels for possible hydrocarbon exploration was a serious issue, according the site quoting Greek media group SKAI.
The Turkish navy boosted its presence off Cyprus this year, adding to tensions with Greece, the main ally of the island’s internationally recognised government, which is dominated by Greek Cypriots.
Turkey is alone in recognising a breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the northern third of the island that its forces invaded in 1974 after a brief Greek Cypriot coup.
When asked about Turkey’s intentions in the region, Kotzias was quoted as saying the energy issue had ‘’whetted its appetite and this appetite must be cut off”.
Kotzias said Turkey had come close to overstepping Greece’s red lines, citing an incident in February when a Turkish coast guard vessel rammed a Greek patrol boat near the uninhabited islets of Imia/Kardak in the Aegean Sea.
“If we didn’t have a calm and composed approach from the Greek side, no one can say where this could have led,” Kotzias said.
Turkey and Greece came close to war over Imia/Kardak in 1996.
Meanwhile Turkey’s detention two Greek soldiers who strayed across the border is likely to remain unaddressed until after Turkey’s June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections, Kathimerini quoted Greek Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis as saying.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Turkey of using the soldiers as hostages after Ankara suggested Greece extradite eight Turkish soldiers who fled Turkey after the collapse of the 2016 coup attempt in return for the Greek servicemen. Greece rejected the proposal.