NEWS

Turkey on course to diplomatic isolation

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

With its decision to send its Oruc Reis survey vessel in the Greek continental shelf near the island of Kastellorizo, along with the opening – in violation of relevant United Nations resolutions – of the coastal front of Varosha in Cyprus, Ankara appears to be heading for diplomatic isolation.

Its involvement in a series of crises, most recently the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has also done much to put it on a collision course with the international community. 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, welcoming German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Athens on Tuesday, clarified that Greece will not be conducting any dialogue with Turkey, with the Oruc Reis in the Greek continental shelf.

For his part, Maas sent out a message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus Tuesday from Athens and Nicosia. Maas emphasized that Turkey’s moves had “nothing to do” with a spirit of understanding and mutual trust. He said that any attempt by a Turkish survey ship to begin prospecting for hydrocarbons in disputed waters around the Greek island of Kastellorizo would strike a “serious blow” to efforts at reducing tensions and the goal of improving ties between the European Union and Turkey.

Maas said he called off his trip to Ankara to demonstrate the solidarity and support “that Greece has from us, everyone in the European Union and Germany.” He also stressed that the latest crisis with Turkey will be discussed at the forthcoming EU summit

Also on Tuesday, the US State Department took a clear stand against Turkey’s navigational advisory or navtex, which reserved an area in the Greek continental shelf, just 6.5 nautical miles from Kastellorizo, calling it a “calculated provocation.”

“Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO allies Greece and Turkey,” said a statement by spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, who added that “coercion, threats, intimidation and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

“We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece. Unilateral actions cannot build trust and will not produce enduring solutions,” she added.

The US also decried what it called the unilateral decision to reopen the sealed off town of Varosha in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, describing it as provocative and counterproductive to the goal of resuming peace talks on the Cyprus issue.

Clear condemnations were also issued by Paris, Vienna and the EU.

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