Tsipras dismisses Turkish threats, as Ankara tries to block drilling in Cyprus' EEZ

Thursday, 13 July 2017 19:11
SOOC/Konstantinos Tsakalidis

A verbal tit-for-tat continued on Thursday between Athens and Ankara in the wake of last week's failed UN-brokered talks on the Cyprus issue and the expected commencement of exploration drilling in Cyprus' EEZ within days, a development that has generated a particularly prickly round of comments by the Turkish side.

Speaking after a meeting in Thessaloniki on Thursday morning in the presence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić during a joint press conference, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used a metaphor to reply to a press question over Ankara's anger with Cyprus' search for oil and gas in its waters.

"An effective guard dog is one that doesn't bark; a good guard dog doesn't need to bark ... We, therefore ... don't bark too much, but I believe that we effectively defend the country's sovereign rights," he said.

His comments come as the Turkish government said it was dispatching a warship, identified as the frigate Göksu, in the general sea region where the drilling will take place, specifically in block 11 of Cyprus exclusive economic zone.

Speaking in Istanbul the same day, Turkish FM Mevlut Çavuşoğlu referred to "insincerity" by the "Greek Cypriot side", using Ankara's term for the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, an EU and euro zone member-state. He also said drilling in Cyprus' EEZ is a "unilateral" act and a "provocation".

He also warned of steps in response to the "Greek Cypriots' provocations".