Whoever violates the sovereign rights of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus will face repercussions, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier said it will not be thwarted by threats of sanctions from the European Union over drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Tsipras addressed Greek military officers stationed in the Cyprus village of Malounda, saying it is imperative to convey the message to everyone that “we proceed only in the framework of international law and whoever violates that, the sovereign rights of Greece and the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, will face repercussions.”
Earlier Erdogan said that the Greek prime minister was “speaking to himself, when he says some things.”
Tsipras said: “This is a turbulent period for our region during which challenges have not ceased, instead have multiplied,” adding that both Greece and Cyprus are at the centre of these developments.
“We want peace and stability. We are a country that favours peace and dialogue. At the same time we are determined to defend our sovereign rights as we have learned to do so from our history.”
Tsipras said it would be wise for Turkey to stop the violation of international law, otherwise, he added, the price for EU-Turkish relations and for peace and stability and cooperation will be high.
The armed forces of Greece are powerful, reliable and ready to fulfil their mission, in the framework of the international law, he cautioned.
Earlier Erdogan said Turkey will not cease exploring for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, nor will it be thwarted by threats of sanctions from the European Union.
“We have four ships in the area and we have taken measures. The prime minister of Greece has been talking on his own, but regardless of what he says, we have rights there,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by Greek media as saying.
He was speaking to lawmakers of his Justice and Development (AKP) Party.
Erdogan was responding to comments made last week by Tsipras who said that Athens “will not allow” Turkey to proceed with reported plans to expand its area of exploration into Greece’s exclusive economic zone.
“Until we achieve a fair distribution of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean, we will continue to move decisively in the area,” Erdogan said.
He warned that Turkey would prevent any gas drilling operations that disregarded the rights of Turkey and the breakaway regime in the north of Cyprus.
Erdogan also alluded to French President Emmanuel Macron, who earlier this month called on Ankara to stop its ‘illegal activities’ in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and said the EU would not back down on the issue.
“When it comes to France, it has no say here,” Erdogan stated.
“In this issue it is Turkey that speaks, a guarantor power. It is Greece that speaks, also a guarantor. And Britain, another guarantor. But you, France, you may not speak.”
On Monday, President Nicos Anastasiades said that at some point Turkey would realise, “Peace is preferable to threats and turbulence. Justice and cooperation are preferable to spontaneous actions, which will not help any country in the process.”
In early May Turkey sent its drillship, the Fatih, to waters well inside Cyprus’ notional exclusive economic zone, at a location about 60km west of Paphos.
Last week Ankara launched a second drillship, the Yavuz, which will reportedly head for a site near the Karpas peninsula. The vessel has begun its journey, but is currently anchored off the port of Antalya on Turkey’s southern coast.