NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Greece's foreign minister said Wednesday his country will boost its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean as part of NATO and United Nations-approved missions. Evangelos Venizelos made the announcement in Cyprus at a time of renewed tension with Turkey over oil and gas exploration rights off the divided island.
Venizelos said Greece would be sending a frigate and submarine, and denied it was in response to a current Turkish survey mission in waters where Cyprus has already licensed companies to drill.
"Greece has a longstanding naval presence in the region," he said. "All countries in the region must work toward ... safeguarding peace and stability in that region. That is my message to Turkey."
Cyprus has been split along ethnic lines since 1974, and only Turkey recognizes the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north where it maintains a strong military presence. The internationally recognized government is in the Greek Cypriot south.
Venizelos met the foreign ministers Ioannis Kasoulides of Cyprus, and Sameh Shoukry of Egypt for talks that centered on offshore energy rights.
In a joint statement, the ministers said they "deplored the recent illegal actions perpetrated within Cyprus' exclusive economic zone."
The leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt are scheduled to meet in Cairo on Nov. 9.