Mealy-mouthed EU accused of ‘appeasement’ as row threatens to blow up in Mediterranean

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The furious attack on the bloc came after Greece failed to secure the support from fellow member states for sanctions against Ankara’s offshore natural gas operations. Nicosia and Athens both claimed Turkish ships have continued to survey two disputed maritime regions. But Turkey insists it has jurisdiction despite Greece claiming one is on its continental shelf and the other claimed by Cyprus.

Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios fumed: “Unfortunately we are observing a diffidence from the European Union in taking on a substantive role and adopting policies of deterrence.”

He welcomed messages of support from EU neighbours but insisted kind words were not enough.

“The policy of appeasement and the messages of support are not enough to discourage Turkey from its illegal actions,” the spokesman added.

Nicosia has called on the EU to have a “more intense” presence in the eastern Mediterranean to deter Ankara’s operations.

Turkey refused to budge in the row, claiming on Sunday it had extended its Yavuz energy drill ship’s operation until mid-September.

The vessel is operating in what Cyprus considers disputed waters off of its coast.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We will not back down in the face of sanctions and threats.

“We will never bow to banditry on our continental shelf.”

The country’s Greek-Cypriot government has been at constant loggerheads with Turkey since the island was split up after a 1974 Turkish invasion.

A breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state was established in the north of the island but is only recognised by Ankara.

Turkey disputes Cyprus’s right to explore in the seas around the island because it maintains Nicosia does not represent the interests of Turkish Cypriots.

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The EU yesterday urged Turkey to “immediately” stop exploring for gas in the disputed area of the Mediterranean.

Ankara’s refusal to back down “regrettably fuels further tensions and insecurity in the eastern Mediterranean”, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.

“This action runs counter and undermines efforts to resume dialogue and negotiations, and to pursue immediate de-escalation, which is the only path towards stability and lasting solutions, as reiterated by EU foreign ministers last Friday,” he said.

“I call on the Turkish authorities to end these activities immediately and to engage fully and in good faith in a broad dialogue with the European Union.”

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French President Emmanuel Macron last week said he would increase his country’s military presence in the Mediterranean in response to Turkey’s actions.

“I have decided to strengthen the French military presence temporarily in the Mediterranean, in cooperation with Greece and other European partners,” he said.

“The eastern Mediterranean situation is worrying. Turkey’s unilateral decisions concerning oil explorations are provoking tensions. Those tensions must end.”

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