Tsipras: Prospect of sanctions to be broached if Turkey continued east Med provocations

Sunday, 16 June 2019 22:26
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters on Sunday evening that whoever violates the sovereign rights of EU member-states Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, or international law in the region, "should know that they will face consequences." He spoke after an urgently held meeting on the increasingly tense situation in the eastern Mediterranean from continued Turkish provocations.

Tsipras addressed reporters after an unscheduled meeting of the high-level Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which took some political analysts by surprise, given that Greece is already in a pre-election season.

Tsipras, the incumbent in the coming July 7 general election, said he also spoke by phone with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades over the next steps that the two countries will take at the EU setting.

Official Turkey has sent a drill ship to the west of the island republic, and in Cyprus' EEZ, to ostensibly begin exploratory drilling, generating even more tension to the already explosive situation the wider region.

Ankara, which does not recognize the internationally recognized and EU member-state Republic of Cyprus, has been "saber-rattling" for the past few years in an effort to prevent Cyprus from exploiting hydrocarbon resources in its waters. Conversely, Turkey insists it is defending the rights of a Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state that only Ankara recognizes - which is essentially one-third of island's land that the Turkish military illegally occupies.

"We agreed to prepare the groundwork for next week's EU summit to take the necessary decisions, even the enactment of sanctions, if it is confirmed that drilling occurred within Cyprus' EEZ," Tsipras said.

Beyond "gunboat" diplomacy around Cyprus' waters, the Erdogan administration's decision to proceed with the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system has dramatically soured relations with Washington, while the country's military is actively involved in the Syrian civil war quagmire on the side of anti-government forces but also in a diametric opposition to Kurdish militias.

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