Dialogue with Ankara is still possible to de-escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Cypriot president said on Wednesday. However, he again accused Turkey of provocations.
Cyprus is ready to engage in dialogue with Turkey to resolve differences but not under threats, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday, after a meeting with EU Council President Charles Michel in Nicosia. The Cypriot leader cited Turkey’s move “to expand illegal drilling” with the Yavuz vessel, adding that “a series of initiatives are ongoing that seek an end to Ankara’s unlawful actions.”
Turkey began drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus last year. On Tuesday, Ankara extended the operations of the Yavuz drill ship in disputed Mediterranean waters off Cyprus until October 12. The vessel will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships, according to a maritime notice. It warned that “all vessels are strongly advised not to enter” the area.
Turkey says the Nicosia administration does not represent the interests of Turkish Cypriots. Cyprus was split after a 1974 Turkish invasion spurred by a brief coup engineered by the military in Greece. The breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus is recognized only by Ankara, while the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government has long been at loggerheads with Ankara.
Turkey and Greece are also at odds over maritime borders and resources. Athens said on Tuesday it was ready for talks with Ankara following the withdrawal of a Turkish exploration vessel from a disputed region.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said in her ‘State of the Union’ speech on Wednesday that nothing could justify Turkey’s “intimidation” of Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean as the dispute over energy resources continues. “Turkey is and will always be an important neighbor. But while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing,” Von der Leyen told members of the European Parliament.
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