Greek FM to visit Turkey amid crisis in Cyprus talks

Greek FM to visit Turkey amid crisis in Cyprus talks

Greek FM to visit Turkey amid crisis in Cyprus talks

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos delivers a speech at the Greek Parliament in Athens on Oct. 10. AFP Photo

Deputy Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will pay a visit to Turkey in late November amid Cyprus talks that have stalled over a dispute over the island’s natural resources.

“We aim to boost ties with Greece. Greek Foreign Minister Venizelos will visit Ankara later this month,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Nov. 5 at a briefing to Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Turkish and Greek officials are also pursuing talks on issues about the Aegean Sea and the continental shelf, he added.

However, “the Cyprus dispute affects our ties with Greece,” he said.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu about the increasing tension in the eastern Mediterranean after Turkey sent the Barbaros seismic survey boat and accompanying ships – two support vessels and a Turkish navy frigate – to the exclusive economic zone where the Greek Cypriot government has licensed exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas.

Greek Cyprus suspended its participation in U.N.-led peace talks over the incident last month.

“The Turkish side will not withdraw from the negotiations. We continue to take encouraging steps,” Çavuşoğlu said, while claiming that the Greek Cypriots did not seem to be "sincere."

Israel backs Cyprus’ offshore oil and gas search

Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign minister said Greek Cyprus’ right to explore for oil and gas off its shores must be respected by all countries, including Turkey.

Avigdor Lieberman said after talks with his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides, Nov. 5 that all nations must respect the sovereignty of their neighbors and that it was “extremely unnecessary” to stir any more tension in a conflict-ridden region.

Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a sovereign state and strongly opposes its gas exploration activities, arguing that it ignores the rights of Turkish Cypriots to any mineral-generated wealth.

Lieberman said Israel, whose relations with Turkey are strained, is looking to achieve “tangible results next year” in its cooperation with Greek Cyprus’ to exploit gas reserves that have been found in the so-called exclusive economic zones of both countries.