Greece, Cyprus lash back out Turkey over comments on trilateral summit

Greece and Cyprus hit back at Turkey on Saturday following comments by Ankara that it was ‘dismayed’ by the joint declaration at the trilateral summit the two countries held with Egypt in Crete on Wednesday, the Cyprus Mail reported.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry  Spokesperson Hami Aksoy on Friday expressed his ‘dismay’ by the joint declaration from the summit which he says disregarded the “atrocities committed by Greek Cypriots against the Turkish Cypriots between 1963-1974.”

Greek Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou on Saturday hit back at Ankara, saying Turkey’s position was ‘’unacceptable’’ while adding that the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, which Turkey said in their statement was the cause for the ‘peace operation’ in 1974, was outdated, and should instead be replaced by the framework UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres set out following Cyprus talks in Crans-Montana last July, the Cyprus Mail reported.

The exploitation of natural resources believed to be present under the seas around Cyprus has become an increasing source of tension between Turkey and Greece. Turkey has sought to block gas exploration by the Greek Cypriot government and has repeatedly stated that explorations for gas reserves off Cyprus should take into account what it says are the rights of Turkish Cypriots in a breakaway state in the northern third of the island.

“One of the parameters set by the Secretary General sets a goal of establishing a modern security system, which respects the independence of our country, without its guardianship from abroad through guarantees or other interference in its internal affairs,” the site quoted Prodromou as saying.

Cypriot President Anastasiades, who attended the summit on Wednesday alongside Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is seeking a negotiation process which takes into account all the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots,  Prodromou added.

Greece’s deputy defence minister Panos Rigas has previously backed Cyprus’ rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), stating, “The Greek government completely supports Cyprus’ sovereign rights to utilise its EEZ in whatever it sees fit, regardless of any third country’s threat.”

Trilateral alliances are important in safeguarding both Greece’s and Cyprus’ national interests, Rigas noted, while stressing their importance for strengthening countries’ geopolitical role in the Mediterranean region.

Rigas expressed that the US, as well as France, have declared their active support of the Republic of Cyprus and the unobstructed exploitation of its energy resources when asked if there is a possibility of the US Navy being present during ExxonMobil’s drillings in Cyprus’ EEZ, the Cyprus Mail said.

On Wednesday, Cyprus, Greece, and Egypt all called on Turkey to cease all illegal activities within the island’s maritime zones, and to refrain from such actions in the future.