The EU has to “speak with a single voice” in its relations with Turkey, in order to assuage growing tensions, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday.
Addressing Italian lawmakers on the upcoming European Council, Conte said: “It’s not in the EU’s interest to fuel tensions or spark dynamics of escalation that we don’t want.”
The two-day EU leaders summit that starts Thursday comes amid high tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over oil and gas drilling rights.
The bloc wants to follow a positive course with Ankara in light of its actions, an EU official said Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke recently about the rising tensions with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration at an event in Turkey on the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“We are not after exploiting the rights of anyone but try to take a firm stance against pirates that try to take our rights away,” Erdogan said on prevailing maritime disputes in the region at the Eastern Mediterranean Workshop.
“We can solve the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean not by excluding each other, but by bringing all the actors together around the same table,” he added.
“The European Union should get rid of its strategic blindness and not let itself be manipulated by either the Greek Cypriots or Greece itself in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan also warned the bloc.
The EU foreign policy chief on Friday said Turkey and the bloc share common interests on developing a good neighborhood.
Addressing the Rome Mediterranean Dialogue Forum, Josep Borrell said that at the last European Council meeting on Oct. 1, EU leaders decided to seek positive engagement with Turkey and evaluate the situation according to whether a more positive approach would come from the Turkish side.
Turkey has disputed similar claims, saying it has repeatedly called for dialogue and negotiations on the dispute.
Borrel, meanwhile said there had been many positive signals from Ankara in the months since the last EU leaders summit on either the situation in Cyprus or the Eastern Mediterranean, and that talks between Greece and Turkey have “not been developing.”
He stressed that the EU has to take steps in light of the developments.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent several drill ships in recent months to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.
Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.