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Greece warns Turkey over drilling activities in eastern Mediterranean

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Christian Fernsby |
Minister Alexis Tsipras
European economies   Minister Alexis Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent a message to Turkey on Sunday, warning that violation of Greece and Cyprus' sovereign rights and international law may result in sanctions.

"Whoever violates Greece's sovereign rights, whoever violates the sovereign rights of the Cyprus Republic which is an EU member state, whoever violates the international law in the region should know that there will be consequences," Tsipras told media outside his office after a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA).

The council convened to examine developments in the eastern Mediterranean following Turkey's decision to proceed to drilling for oil and gas exploration within Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Ankara argues that some of the gas fields claimed by the Greek Cypriots overlap with the exclusive economic zone of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots living in the northern part of the divided Cyprus island.

Greece, which is a close ally of Cyprus Republic, rejects the step as illegal and provocative. The two countries have long standing differences with Turkey in the area over sovereignty rights.

Cyprus Island has been divided since 1974 when Turkey intervened militarily following a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots.

"Violation of international law by Turkey is not a sign of power, but weakness. Greece is a strong country and lately has managed to form alliances and has acquired support internationally, stronger than ever," Tsipras said in the statement.

He said that on Sunday evening he also had a telephone contact with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades during the KYSEA meeting to coordinate next steps.

"We agreed to prepare the ground in coming days to pave the way for the EU summit next week to take the necessary decisions, even to impose sanctions against Turkey, if it is confirmed that there has been a drill inside Cyprus' EEZ," Tsipras said.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Turkish drillship Fatih had started its drilling in an area approximately 36.6 nautical miles off the coast of Paphos and that a second drillship was being sent in the region.


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