Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on Tuesday urged Turkey to halt aggression in the eastern Mediterranean after it stepped up gas drilling activities near Cyprus, Greek daily Kathimerini reported.
During a meeting in Athens, the two ministers discussed Turkey’s violation of Cyprus’ sovereign rights, stressing that Ankara’s illegal activities jeopardized regional security, Kathimerini said.
Dendias thanked the Egyptian government for its responsible and clear stance on the issue. Shoukry called on Turkey to respect the international law in order to protect regional stability, Kathimerini said. Shoukry is expected to visit the Cypriot capital Nicosia on Wednesday.
Athens and Nicosia object to Turkey’s claims over drilling rights off Cyprus, where Turkey currently has two drilling ships and one surveying vessel accompanied by its navy.
Turkey, the only country that recognizes a breakaway state in the north of divided Cyprus, says Turkish Cypriots should get their fair share from the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves near the island. Ankara also has territorial claims that overlap Cyprus’ so-called Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Turkish-Egyptian relations have been at a low point since 2013 when the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, a staunch political ally of Ankara. Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel are now working to create a regional energy architecture that currently excludes Turkey. Cyprus signed an agreement to demarcate its EEZ with Egypt in 2013. Turkey claims that the accord violates the Turkish continental shelf.