Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday that Greece and Cyprus will push their EU partners to penalize Turkey, including the possible option of sanctions, if Ankara is verified to have started drilling for gas west of Cyprus.
Addressing the nation after an extraordinary meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), the supreme decision-making body on issues of foreign policy and national defense of Greece, Tsipras said that Greeks should feel “totally safe”.
“We have agreed .. to prepare the ground in the coming week that the (European Union) summit take the relevant decisions, even sanctions against Turkey, if it is verified that there has been a drill (by Turkey) in the Cypriot EEZ,” Tsipras told reporters.
Nicosia has information that Turkey has moved materials and equipment related to drilling activity to the area west of Paphos where it has stationed its drillship Fatih, but the government can’t confirm the information, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Sunday.
Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told the news agency: “We have been following statements of Turkish officials for several days and often with conflicting information. There is information on the transport of drilling equipment and equipment. However, we are not in a position to confirm this information.”
Tsipras cancelled his scheduled visit to the islands of Kos and Nisyros and returned to Athens to chair the KYSEA meeting late on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense has denied it moved any troops to the Eastern Aegean Islands close to Turkey as a reaction to any emergency.
“Recent webpage postings according to which Greek troops have been moved to Eastern Aegean islands in an emergency do not correspond to reality,” the ministry said in a statement Sunday.
“The operational deployment of the Greek Armed Forces is the usual one. Any movements were made as part of (an exercise) that was completed on Friday, June 14,” the ministry said.