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Greece-Cyprus hold firm diplomatic front in East Med

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Greece and Cyprus have a “single but firm diplomatic front” in the eastern Mediterranean based on international law, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Monday in Nicosia during her first foreign trip.

Sakellaropoulou arrived at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia where she began a two-day visit, her first official trip abroad after assuming her duties.

President Nicosia Anastasiades welcomed the Greek dignitary and expressed Cyprus’ gratitude for Greece’s long-standing support.

He said Sakellaropoulou’s visit comes at a time of crisis caused by Turkish “illegal actions” both in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean through a serious of acts which could have led to undesirable consequences.

Greece’s President spoke of the “very special relationship” between Athens and Cyprus, noting the “great significance Greece places on the Cyprus problem.”

She said her visit to Cyprus takes place at a very particular and difficult juncture due to Turkish provocative behaviour.

Sakellaropoulou added that her visit seeks to stress that both countries have a single, firm diplomatic front which is always driven by the common and national interest and is based on international law.

Referring to Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis withdrawing from the Eastern Mediterranean, she said it constitutes a step towards de-escalation but cautioned it remained to be proven whether this was a tactical move or a choice which will have continuity.

Later Sakellaropoulou will meet with Archbishop Chrysostomos II and will hold a meeting with Parliament speaker Demetris Syllouris and the leaders of the political parties.

She will also address a special plenary of the House.

Turkey has conducted unauthorised gas drilling in designated Cyprus waters since last year and recently extended the operation of its Yavuz drillship in the island’s exclusive economic zone.

Nicosia and Athens are also pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey for its activities in the region.