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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 17 February 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2018 25 GREECE Turkey blocks drilling rig in Cyprus Turkish warships are preventing a rig from reaching a designated area for gas drilling Cyprus' plan to pursue offshore hydrocarbon search options has been undermined by Turkey, which has sent warships to prevent the rig from reaching the targeted drilling location. Speaking to the Cyprus state broadkaster RIK, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that the rig, belonging to Italian energy firm ENI, remains anchored about 50 kilometres from the drilling target off the island nation's southeastern coast. The Associated Press reports that the Turkish warships told the ENI rig not to continue because there would be military activities at its destination. ENI decided that the rig would remain where it stopped until the situation is resolved; the company and the Cypriot government have expressed determination to continue as planned. According to the Cypriot spokesman, the Turkish warships also prevented other merchant vessels from approaching the area, citing ongoing military maneuvers, pointing out that a Turkish notice blocking off the area for military activity violates international law and is legally invalid. Turkey has been opposing the drilling for a long time, saying it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the island's natural resources. Turkey's foreign min- istry issued a statement accusing the Cyprus government of acting like "the sole owner of the island" and warning that the country would be responsible for any consequences. Greece's foreign ministry responded with a harsh statement, condemning what it said was Turkey's disregard for international law and the "blatant violation" of Cyprus' sovereign rights. It also said that Turkey's "provocative" behaviour wasn't appropriate for a country that has worked to join the European Union membership. This was backed by a statement made by the European Commission spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, who said that "Turkey needs to commit unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction, threat or action directed against a member state." For his part, newly reelected President Nicos Anastasiades tried to diffuse tension, promising that Cyprus is taking actions that will neither lead to an escalation of tensions nor overlook the fact that Turkey was violating international law. The Cyprus Government says a gas search is its sovereign right and that any potential hydrocarbon wealth generated will be equitably shared among all Cypriots after the island is reunified. Yanis Varoufakis announces the name of his new political party DiEM25’s sister-party to contest the next elections in Greece Greece's controversial former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has just revealed the name of his new party. The party will take part in the next elections as Greece's electoral leg of the pan-European movement DiEM25 which Varoufakis helped set up. DiEM25 members unanimously approved the name of their new vessel hoping to "return the spirit of democracy to the place of its birth". The name is MeRA25 (an acronym for European Realist Disobedience Front), which is the Greek translation of the Latin. DiEM25 aspires to turn European internationalism into a reality and a European demos into a tangible possibility. The description 'European realist disobedience front' is an attempt to encapsulate the party's philosophy, that without disobeying the prevalent politics run by irrational men and promoting absurd ideas there will be no real change; no return to reality. They also describe the Greek DiEM25 wing as a 'front' since they say it has become a battlefield, exposing the EU's financial weaknesses and inability to deal with the refugee crisis. MeRA25 explains: Why 'front'? “Because Greece is suffocating in a Europe that is deconstructing itself. Because, as long as countries like Greece are suffocating, Europe will be deconstructing itself, thus reinforcing the suffocation of Greece. Only a broad, unifying, panEuropean front against our Oligarchy-Without-Borders, that is responsible for Greece's debtbondage, can ever give breathing space to Greece and relief to its citizens.” Why 'European realist disobedience'? “Because the only way to be a responsible Greek citizen today is to disobey the ludicrous policies that are responsible for Greece's dessertification. Because the only way of respecting Greece's parliamentarianism, constitution and . . . common sense is to end the blind obedience to the directives of the troika and its domestic agents. Authentic Greek Europeanists, today, understand that they have a duty to disobey the incompetent pseudo-technocrats who, on the altar of narrow oligarchic interests, are sacrificing Greece while de-legitimising Europe.” Why 'MeRA'? “Because 'mera' in Greek translates into 'day', or 'diem' in Latin. And because Greeks have had enough of the long night of debt bondage to which they have been condemned for so many consecutive years." Over the next days and weeks, DiEM25's Greek members' decision to create MeRA25 will lead to the new Greek party's manifesto. On Tuesday 20 February a pre-inauguration public meeting will take place in Kalamata (Municipal Cultural Centre, at 7.30 pm) while, on Monday 26 March MeRA25's inauguration will take place in Athens. "Until then, we call upon all European democrats who were cheered by the news of MeRA25's impending birth, and who think this is a beginning worthy of their support, to visit this website and register their practical support," Varoufakis continued. "This is merely the beginning. Greece is merely the beginning. Onwards to our pan-European campaign, culminating in the May 2019 European Parliament elections!" War of words between Greece and Turkey on the aftermath of Imia incident ‘Turkey must stop violating international law and refrain from acts that do not contribute to the development of relations between the two countries,’ reads the Greek Foreign Ministry statement "Along with any sense of measure, Turkey has lost its common sense. Apart from violating international law, it demonstrates lack of knowledge of geography". Undated photo of the Saipem 12000 drilling floater. ENI’s rig is stranded in the Mediterranean, prevented by Turkish warships from reaching the point of drilling. This was the latest in a series of harsh statements exchanged by Greece and Turkey over the past few days. Issued by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Alexandros Yennimatas, the statement came as a response to Turkey's reaction to a dangerous incident that took place in the south east Aegean, when a Turkish coast guard boat rammed a Greek patrol vessel in the coastal area surrounding the Imia islets. No injuries or severe damage were reported, despite the Greek boat having to harbour in Leros for minor repairs - the Turkish vessel departed the area immediately after the incident. This was the latest in a series of episodes of intensified military activity by the Turkish maritime forces in the maritime region, which includes the two rocky outcrops, which Turkey has called "Kardak" since early 1996, when a heat- ed incident between Greece and Turkey nearly led to war - and resulted in the deaths of two Greek soldiers. This turn of events led to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos, making a strong démarche to his Turkish counterpart and summoning Turkey's Ambassador in Athens to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Dangerous incidents such as these, which place human lives at risk, are the result of the escalating and provocative conduct that Turkey has increasingly exhibited in recent days," read the statement. "Turkey must stop violating international law and refrain from acts that do not contribute to the development of relations between the two countries. Such acts undermine regional security and stability, which Greece upholds and will continue to do so." For its part, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with an equally harsh statement. "Unfortunately, the Greek side has both misled its public opinion as we are accustomed to, and has distorted the facts, as is always the case," said ministry spokesperson, Hami Akso. "In fact, the undersecretary of our ministry has called the Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the incidents caused last night by the Hellenic Coast Guard boats through their dangerous manoeuvres in the vicinity of the Kardak rocks, which are under Turkish sovereignty. The undersecretary has clearly stated that the hostile actions of the Greek military forces are continuing in air and at sea, of which we will not tolerate, and that increasing tension in the Aegean Sea does not serve to the interests of the two countries. He further stated that the Greek side should end these dangerous actions." Following that statement, the Greek prime minister addressed the issue, speaking with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim on Tuesday evening. According to reports, Alexis Tsipras underlined the need for an immediate end to ever-increasing and "provocative Turkish violations in Greek islands' territorial waters and airspace in the Aegean, and for a de-escalation to take place," stressing that such incidents directly undermine Turkey's relations with Greece and the European Union and contravene international law. The two agreed to intensify discussions regarding confidence-building measures. Turkey's recent military activity in the Aegean came to be added on the country's hard stance towards Cyprus, where Turkish warships have been blocking a rig vessel to conduct research into offshore hydrocarbons. At the same time Turkey has been conducting a military operation on foreign soil, in northwest Syria, which has caused alarm among many countries in the broader region of the Middle East and Mediterranean, and even the United States. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is currently on a trip to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, and Turkey, where he will meet with senior Turkish officials to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues.
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