Turkey on Aug. 20 called on the EU to urge Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration for restraint rather than Turkey amid escalating tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“If the EU wants to be a part of the process that aims peace, prosperity and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, it must be objective and honest. As shared with the public earlier, the calls for restraint should be directed to Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, which harm EU’s interests and escalate tension by exploiting the EU membership solidarity, rather than Turkey on the side of dialogue and cooperation,” Hami Aksoy, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in a written statement.
His remarks came as a response to a statement by the EU following a videoconference on Aug. 19.
Aksoy said the statement shows that the EU is “held hostage to the manipulation and blackmail of the two-member states.”
He also stressed that Turkey will not abdicate its rights, yet, continue to support negotiations and respond to positive steps around good neighborly relations and in line with international law.
Turkey accuses Greece of pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and underlines that its maritime claims violate sovereign rights of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the region.
Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating Turkey’s legitimate interests.
Turkey has also said energy resources near Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)- which has issued Turkish Petroleum a license- and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the only solution to the dispute lies through dialogue and negotiation, and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.
After Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal earlier this month, Ankara resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean in an area within the country’s continental shelf.
Merkel, Macron call for de-escalation
German and French leaders on Aug. 20 called for de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, and vowed to support diplomatic efforts to resolve maritime boundary disputes between Greece and Turkey.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her call on Greece and Turkey to resume direct talks to resolve their long-standing disputes, and said Berlin and Paris would enhance their cooperation to facilitate a diplomatic solution.
“We need stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, not tensions. We are aware of the critical situation there. I am confident that if Germany and France join their forces, hopefully we can find a good solution, which can make
cooperation possible,” Merkel told a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, following their meeting at Macron’s presidential mansion of Fort de Bregancon on the Mediterranean coast.
Merkel also underlined that it was important to maintain unity among EU member states, and demonstrate solidarity with EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration.
Meanwhile, Macron renewed his criticism of Turkey, but also expressed readiness to promote a constructive dialogue among all states in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Turkey, to de-escalate tensions and resolve current disputes.
He also argued that recent diplomatic initiatives of Berlin and Paris on the Eastern Mediterranean were not contradictory but complimentary, and said they were pursuing the same goals, such as supporting the sovereign rights of EU member states and protecting stability in the region.
Merkel’s diplomatic efforts for mediation between Turkey and Greece was severely undermined earlier this month, after Macron announced that France will send its warships to the region in support of EU member Greece. Macron’s move has further escalated tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
But on Thursday, during the press conference with Merkel, the French president underlined the importance of Merkel’s diplomatic initiative, and said Paris will support Berlin’s efforts.