Turkey has called for unconditional and direct talks with Greece for the resolution of the ongoing deadlock in the eastern Mediterranean while criticizing the French-led MED7 initiative for its one-sided declaration that does not correspond to the realities concerning the ongoing crisis.
Hami Aksoy, the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, responded to the declaration issued by the MED7 countries which met under the French leadership in Corsica on Sept. 10 with the participation of Greece, Greek Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Malta and Portugal.
Aksoy said the arguments underlined in the declaration had no legal basis and were far from corresponding to the realities.
The declaration pledged full support and solidarity to Greek Cyprus and Greece while expressing regret “that Turkey has not responded to repeated calls by the European Union to end its unilateral and illegal activities in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.”
It praised mediation efforts by Germany’s top diplomat, Heiko Maas, and the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, but stressed that “in absence of progress in engaging Turkey into a dialogue and unless it ends its unilateral activities, the EU is ready to develop a list of further restrictive measures that could be discussed at the European Council on Sept. 24-25.”
“Turkey is a candidate country to the EU with longest shores in the eastern Mediterranean,” recalled Aksoy in his statement.
“We invite Greece to give up of its maximalist maritime jurisdiction claims, which are in violation of international law. In a bid to de-escalation, it’s indispensable for Greece to withdraw its warships around our Oruç Reis research vessel for it to support NATO’s de-confliction initiative and to stop the militarization of eastern Aegean islands, including Meis and cease its recently increasing pressure against the Western Thrace Turkish community,” he stated.
Against EU acquis
The spokesperson stated that Greece should unconditionally start to negotiate with Turkey so that the climate of dialogue and cooperation could prevail as well as Greek Cypriots should agree to share the hydrocarbon revenues with the Turkish Cypriots.
The MED7 countries that signed the declaration should quit their one-sided approach and their support to Greece and Greek Cyprus, Aksoy said, slamming the bloc for providing solidarity to those who were wrong.
Spain, Italy water statement down
In the meantime, Spanish media has suggested that the wording of the declaration was softened by the interventions of Spain and Italy with the concerns that the imposition of a tougher message against Turkey would make things worse.
“Spain and Italy, supported by Portugal and Malta, joined forces yesterday at the MED7 summit, an informal forum of the southern countries of the EU, to contain the offensive that French President Emmanuel Macron wants to accelerate against Turkey,” wrote El Pais on Sept. 11 in an article quoting anonymous diplomatic sources.
It argued French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to see tougher messages conveyed to Turkey in the declaration, but he was contained by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Sanchez underlined that Spain was committed to dialogue, while Conte stressed, “It is our obligation to curb the tensions. We have to go for pragmatic solutions,” according to the paper.
Turkey on Sept. 11 branded as “biased” a statement by southern European leaders threatening sanctions against Ankara in its standoff with Greece over eastern Mediterranean energy and maritime rights.
“The expressions in the joint communique … are biased, disconnected from reality and lack a legal basis,” the foreign ministry said after a summit French President Emmanuel Macron hosted on Sept. 10.
The statement added that Greece needed to “unconditionally sit at the negotiating table with Turkey” in order to achieve dialogue and cooperation in the region, adding Athens needed to withdraw its military ships from around Turkey’s Oruç Reis survey vessel in order to de-escalate tensions.
NATO members Turkey and Greece have overlapping claims to continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.