Turkey, Greece to use dialogue to calm Aegean tensions

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With that statement, issued through a statement on Sunday 11, Ankara put the issue in context, by associating it with the unresolved conflict over Cyprus, whose northern portion was occupied by Turkey in 1974, following the coup supported by the junta Greek military then against President Makarios.

Greece's foreign ministry on Monday condemned Turkey's violation of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after Turkish warships harassed an Italian-interest rig digging for hydrocarbon in the Eastern Aegean, according to greekreporter. "We warn those who overstep the mark in Cyprus and the Aegean", he said.

The Saipem 12000 drill ship had been heading from a location south-southwest of Cyprus towards an area southeast of the island when it was stopped by Turkish warships on Friday, Cyprus said.

"Turkey must end the violations of global law and acts that do not contribute in the development of the two countries' relations", it said, adding that Turkey's ambassador to Athens had been summoned.

Turkey is against drilling, saying the act disregards the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the island's natural resources.

Cyprus announced on 8 February that exploratory drilling by Italy's ENI and France's Total had found extensive gas reserves elsewhere off the island in a major breakthrough in its hunt for resources.

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Greece's foreign ministry condemned what it said was Turkey's disregard for worldwide law and the "blatant violation" of Cyprus' sovereign rights.

A spokesperson for Eni told the Cyprus News Agency that Turkish military ships had interfered with drilling plans in the block using the Saipem 12000 drillship.

Cyprus has signed deals with a range of firms for exploratory drilling, with USA giant ExxonMobil also planning two drills in the second half of 2018.

It also said that Turkey's "provocative" behavior wasn't appropriate for a country that has worked to join the European Union membership.

"The EU also stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of member states over their territorial sea and airspace".

"Turkey needs to commit unequivocally to good neighborly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction, threat or action directed against a member state" European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.