Turkey expects Greece to take steps to open the channels of dialogue to ensure the peaceful resolution of problems in the eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, repeating Ankara’s full determination to protect its rights to the hydrocarbon reserves in the region.
“We are in favor of negotiations instead of tension, and we are in favor of de-escalation instead of escalation. With all our sincerity, we expect our counterparts to take steps to open the channels of dialogue and not act in a way to increase tension,” Erdoğan said Aug. 19 at a ceremony to open a factory that will produce solar panels in Ankara.
Erdoğan did not name the counterparts, but his comments were overtly directed at Greece, as Turkey and its western neighbor are in a standoff over overlapping continental shelf claims in the Mediterranean.
The Turkish president expressed his hope that the countries would succeed in resolving their issues in a peaceful way yet underlined that Ankara would never abandon its rights and interests in the region.
The struggle Turkey is conducting in different fronts from Libya to the eastern Mediterranean is not just for its rights but for its future, Erdoğan said. “No colonial power can deprive us of the predicted rich oil and gas reserves in this region.”
A regional coalition called the East Med Forum that brings together Greece, Greek Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Italy and Jordan have excluded Turkey from their efforts to explore, drill and market the area’s oil and gas reserves to world markets.
Turkey has said Greece and Greek Cyprus are violating international law by claiming excessive continental shelf areas in the Mediterranean while disregarding the rights and interests of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.
The steps Turkey is taking in the region are directly linked to the government’s efforts to reduce its energy dependence on foreign suppliers, Erdoğan said, adding that a country fully dependent on foreign energy sources cannot be fully independent.
“Defending the Blue Homeland is equally important with the efforts we have been exerting to defend our homeland,” Erdoğan said, referring to Turkey’s rights in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas.
COVID-19 under control
Touching on the ongoing fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus, Erdoğan admitted that the number of new cases had recently jumped but added, “Having said that, the pandemic is under our control.”
Erdoğan said tourism had risen with the resumption of air traffic to Turkey, expressing hope that more airlines would fly to further increase traffic.
“It seems that Turkey has returned to its position before the pandemic,” he added.
HH Erdoğan to announce ‘good news’
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also said he would give “good news” on Aug. 21 that would open a new era in Turkey, but he did not give any more hints as to the nature of the announcement.