BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:00 A.M.) – The Cypriot President condemned Turkey’s “aggressiveness” and called for talks to resolve the dispute over maritime borders and gas exploration rights, warning that the escalation threatens to destabilize the entire region.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP): “There is aggression, with an intention to actually control the entire region. So we are witnessing increasing tension, and the resulting situation is very explosive and raises concern.”
Anastasiades said that his fragmented island is facing a “very dangerous situation” and condemned Ankara for its “provocations” and “violations of international law” that violate the “exclusive economic zone” of Cyprus.
He warned that Ankara “endangers the stability and security of the entire region.”
He continued, “Turkey’s continued illegal exploration operations … have led to the intensified militarization of our neighborhood.”
But amid fears of open conflict, Anastasiades stressed that if the United Nations and the international community take the necessary steps, “we can avoid further escalation.”
The Cypriot President also stressed that his country does not want to impose sanctions on Turkey: “Sanctions are not our goal. Our goal is to see that through dialogue we can reach a settlement that is fully compatible with what is stipulated in international law,” adding: “They should realize that they must abide by the law.”
The Cypriot President also praised France’s “firm stance” during the current crisis, saying that Paris was “a pioneering voice for what Europe must do to protect member states from this aggression.”
Tensions are rising over Turkish exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean, which is considered by Cyprus and its ally Greece as a violation of their sovereignty.
Greece and Turkey have conducted naval exercises in the region to assert their claims to sovereignty over gas resources and exclusive economic zones.
On August 28, the European Union threatened Turkey with possible sanctions, unless progress is made towards reducing tension in the eastern Mediterranean.