A new declaration by southern EU states threatening sanctions on Turkey is “one-sided” and ignores the reality in the region, Turkey said Friday.
“The statements on the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus issue in the joint declaration are biased, disconnected from the truth, and lack a legal basis, similar to last year,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy in a statement on the declaration from Thursday’s Med7 summit.
Meeting on the French island of Corsica, the informal group of EU Mediterranean states – France, Italy, Spain, Malta, Greece, and the Greek Cypriot administration, plus Portugal – released a statement warning Turkey of new “restrictive measures” if it does not unilaterally accede to Athens maximalist claims of maritime territory.
“We reiterate our full support and solidarity with [Greek] Cyprus and Greece in the face of the repeated infringements on their sovereignty and sovereign rights, as well as confrontational actions by Turkey,” the Med 7 declaration said.
“We maintain 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 24-25 September 2020,” the statement added.
Amid tensions over Mediterranean territory and energy exploration, Turkey has repeatedly stressed its willingness to enter negotiations without preconditions, contrasting this with Greece’s refusal in recent weeks to enter dialogue through both NATO and the EU.
‘Abandon illegal claims’
Aksoy called on Greece to ease tension in the region by “giving up its maximalist maritime jurisdiction claims that are against international law.”
“To reduce the tension, it is essential that Greece withdraw its military ships around our Oruc Reis research ship, support NATO’s disintegration initiative, stop arming the Eastern Aegean islands including Meis, and put an end to the increasing pressure on the Western Thrace Turkish Minority,” the statement added.
For dialogue and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece should sit at the table with Turkey without any preconditions, he added.
The statement also called on EU countries that signed the declaration to “abandon their one-sided attitudes” contrary to international law.
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.
Greece has tried to claim hundreds of miles of maritime territory from the island of Meis, a 26 square kilometer (10 square mile) island just two km (1.24 mi) from the Turkish coast yet 600 km (373 mi) from Greece.
Amid the tension, Greek troops have been seen mobilizing on Meis – an island demilitarized through longstanding treaties.
Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill ships such as the Oruc Reis to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have energy rights in the region.
Dialogue for sharing these resources fairly would be win-win for all sides, say Turkish officials.
Turkey has also repeatedly decried Greece’s decades-long oppression of the ethnic Turkish minority in the Western Thrace region, an oppression in defiance of international treaties and court orders and that Athens has stepped up in recent weeks.
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