19:51 GMT21 February 2020
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    ATHENS (Sputnik) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Friday the European Union had sent a clear message to Ankara when it called Turkey’s natural gas drilling off Cyprus illegal.

    "The European Council has sent a clear, stern and firm message to Turkey. It condemns [Turkey’s] provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean seas, including operations to explore natural resources in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone," Tsipras told reporters.

    Tsipras warned that Turkish actions would have consequences and called for dialogue with Ankara to head off a crisis. He suggested that the bloc could hit back with sanctions against individuals and companies, put cooperation on hold or take other measures that would hurt Turkey economically.

    The prime minister's statements come after an EU summit on Thursday condemned Turkey for sending a second drilling ship to what it considers its exclusive economic zone.

    Cyprus, supported by the European Union, has been protesting Turkey's drilling off its coast where gas fields have been discovered. Ankara, in its turn, claims rights for natural resources in the area. 

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops entered the island claiming that the move sought to protect Cypriot Turks from the Greek community. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in 1983 and is recognised only by Turkey while the international community considers it as a part of the Republic of Cyprus.


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