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Greek minister says Turkey’s drilling tests EU’s credibility

July 19, 2019
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Greece's national defense minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, left, and his Cyprus counterpart Savvas Angelides talk to the media during a press conference after their meeting at the defense ministry in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, July 19, 2019. Panagiotopoulos says Turkey's illegal gas drilling off Cyprus is testing the European Union's credibility at deterrence and its ability to safeguard its members' common energy interests in the eastern Mediterranean. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
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Greece's national defense minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, left, and his Cyprus counterpart Savvas Angelides talk to the media during a press conference after their meeting at the defense ministry in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, July 19, 2019. Panagiotopoulos says Turkey's illegal gas drilling off Cyprus is testing the European Union's credibility at deterrence and its ability to safeguard its members' common energy interests in the eastern Mediterranean. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Greece’s new defense minister says Turkey’s illegal gas drilling off Cyprus is testing the European Union’s credibility as a guardian of its members’ energy interests in the Mediterranean.

Nikos Panagiotopoulos said after talks with the defense minister of Cyprus on Friday that Greece is monitoring Turkey’s activity in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights with “great concern.”

He said the Turkish government’s “expanding provocative and unlawful behavior” in the island nation’s territory leaves “no room for complacency.”

A Turkish vessel is drilling west of Cyprus and another is poised to start east of the island, which is ethnically divided between Greeks and Turks.

The Turkish government says it’s acting to preserve its own energy reserve rights and those of Turkish Cypriots.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Turkey this week.

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