Greece on Wednesday backed Greek Cypriots in a row with Turkey over oil exploration, a day after the Greek Cypriots accused Ankara of having resorted to 19th century-style gunboat diplomacy. "I cannot say that Turkey's stance until now, and its general practices in the eastern Mediterranean leave much room for optimism," Greek President Karolos Papoulias was quoted by AFP as saying. It was "unacceptable" that Turkey should call into question "sovereign rights" concerning the exploitation of marine wealth that Greek Cypriots have under international law, he added. Papoulias was speaking after a meeting with his Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, who on Wednesday began a three-day official visit to Greece.The Greek Cypriots said the incident occurred off the Cyprus south coast on Nov. 13, when a Turkish warship turned back a Norwegian-flagged exploration vessel. Cypriot Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou on Tuesday accused Turkey of resorting to 19th-century tactics. "No modern state, especially one that wants to join the EU, sends out warships to impede the (legal) exercise of rights," he added.Ankara countered that the Greek Cypriot oil search mission had violated its territorial rights and vowed to protest to international bodies. "We consider it an adventurist move to carry out activities on Turkey's continental shelf at a time when negotiations for a comprehensive settlement are under way in Cyprus," foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told AFP on Tuesday . Greece and Greek Cypriots will remain vigilant to scrutinize Turkey's strategy and tactics, AFP quoted Christofias as telling reporters after his meeting with Papoulias. "We are builders, not wreckers," he said, but added they will defend the sovereign rights of Greek Cypriots and Greece against schemes coming from "this provocative neighbor". The Greek Cypriot administration has signed gas and oil exploration deals with Egypt and Lebanon, prompting protests from Turkey on grounds that the deals infringe on the rights of Turkish Cypriots. The incident came as Turkish and Greek Cypriots enter a period of renewed talks to reunite the island that has been divided since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves. Greece also clashed with Turkey last week in a separate row over oil exploration. On November 15, a Norwegian survey ship commissioned by the Turkish government called off a search in the southeastern Aegean after Athens complained that the exploration was being conducted in its waters.