ANKARA 

Turkey on Monday hailed remarks from Pope Francis calling for dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean and for conflicting sides in the region to act in line with international law.

Fahrettin Altun, the head of Turkey’s Communications Directorate, on Twitter “welcomed” Francis’ words, adding: “Turkey calls on Greece, among others, to respect international law, instead of militarizing the Aegean islands and laying claim to our Blue Homeland.”

“The Mediterranean should be a sea of peace and stability.”

Earlier the same day, Francis said in a statement on social media: “I follow with concern the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean area and I appeal for constructive dialogue and respect for international law to resolve the conflicts that threaten the peace of the peoples of that region.”

Greece has disputed Turkey’s current energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drilling ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

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