ANKARA

Senior officials of the ruling parties of Turkey and Russia on Thursday discussed the novel coronavirus pandemic and developments in the eastern Mediterranean via video conference.

Turkey’s Justice and Development (AK) Party deputy chairman for foreign affairs Cevdet Yilmaz and chair for the United Russia Party Dmitry Medvedev met in an inter-party online meeting.

Stressing that Turkey has the longest coast in the eastern Mediterranean, Yilmaz said: “Turkey’s Eastern Mediterranean policy has two aspects: Delimitation of maritime boundaries and legitimate and equal rights of the Turkish Cypriots (TCs) on the natural resources of the Island.”

Yilmaz underlined that Turkey’s maritime boundaries were an issue of “sovereignty” over the country’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and that Ankara was “nevertheless open for dialogue with all countries” except for the Greek Cypriot administration.

“Second aspect of the matter is that TCs are entitled to equal rights on the hydrocarbon resources of the island,” Yilmaz added.

“If a solution is desired in the Eastern Mediterranean, as a first step, the two peoples of the island should come together and establish a joint cooperation mechanism for the exploration and exploitation of the hydrocarbon resources, including revenue sharing, as soon as possible.”

He went on to say that the distortion of Turkey’s actions to protect its legitimate interests based on international law was “unacceptable under any circumstances.”

Pivoting to the ongoing conflict in fellow Eastern Mediterranean country Libya, Yilmaz reiterated that the sole legitimate authority in the country was the internationally recognized government based in the capital Tripoli, currently fighting against the forces of renegade general Khalifa Haftar.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Efforts against COVID-19

Medvedev stressed the importance of inter-party dialogue to combat COVID-19 and cooperation in developing a vaccination against the disease.

“When good vaccines become available, they should be used almost simultaneously on all continents, primarily for reasons of national security,” Medvedev said.

He added that Russia called for full global compliance with the UN Biological Weapons Convention, “thus reminding the international community that using biological weapons is unacceptable.”

The pandemic has also led to a surge in cybercrime, Medvedev stressed. “Today, with the ever-increasing use of digital solutions in everyday life and companies switching to telecommuting and opening access to their in-house data, cyber criminals, hackers and peddlers of counterfeit products find it easier to target their victims.”

“Here in Russia, the Security Council, law enforcement and other agencies are working hard to develop a national cybersecurity system. We urge the international community to join efforts in order to ensure global security in the digital world,” he added.

Yilmaz, for his part, said the pandemic was a test on humanity as a whole. “We believe that global cooperation and solidarity are crucial to struggle against COVID-19.”

Underscoring the importance of inter-party dialogue and the global availability of a potential vaccine, Yilmaz said the virus was a good opportunity to improve bilateral relations on regional and global issues. “This opportunity needs to be used for a better world.”

Stressing that the pandemic is a global problem, Yilmaz said cooperation and solidarity need to be increased. He urged a “new globalization” to promote improved “global governance,” as opposed to “anti-globalist trends” that promoted “self-sufficiency.”

He said Ankara had received requests for support against the virus from 152 countries in total. “We have met more than 139 requests and continue assessing all other applications favorably, with humanitarian considerations,” Yilmaz said.

Lauding Turkey’s performance in fighting the outbreak thanks to its “preparedness, effective mobilization of our health system, social security, digital infrastructure,” he said: “At the same time, we need to prepare ourselves for the post-COVID-19 term.”

He urged cooperation on health issues, as well as economic problems, adding that security issues like cyber and biological security would also be on the agenda.

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