NEWS

Turkey seeking East Med, Aegean package deal

TAGS: Turkey, Cyprus, Diplomacy

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Ankara wants to mend relations with Greece and hammer out a package deal that would include the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Speaking to local broadcaster TGRT Haber, he also said that no further energy exploration or drillships are necessary in the Eastern Mediterranean – for now – but reportedly added that Turkey will not allow anyone to dispute its sovereign rights in the area.

However, Turkey’s recent stance in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean drew a scathing response from Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday. Speaking to Parliament during a debate on the government’s policy statements, he said that Greece “will not tolerate threats of war, provocative acts and unilateral claims” but will promote a policy of “good neighborly relations and respect for international law and treaties.”

“We will make this absolutely clear to Turkey and to international fora. To the extent that Turkey’s European prospects become less visible, a policy that takes this new reality into account becomes mandatory,” he added.

With regard to Cyprus, Dendias noted that a “self-evident” condition for reunification talks to restart is for Turkey to stop its illegal drilling and prospecting off the island’s coast and to remove its ships from Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial waters.

Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos echoed similar sentiments, insisting that Athens cannot accept “behaviors that directly dispute our territorial integrity and our sovereign rights, and violate international treaties.” He also rebuked Turkey’s “illegal” actions in the EEZ of a European Union member state, adding that Greece will seek to maintain a channel of communication via the implementation of a series of actions within the framework of confidence building measures.

“We sincerely hope that Turkey also aims for the same,” he said. “We are waiting for evidence of its (good) intentions, which, however, we have yet to see.”

Meanwhile, Cyprus government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou on Monday announced an informal meeting on August 9 between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci

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