The joint statements on Thursday by Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Antalya, that Ankara should not be excluded from the unfolding energy game in the Eastern Mediterranean, sparked a war of words between the government and opposition New Democracy.
In a statement, ND’s shadow foreign minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos accused the government of unilaterally diverging from Greece’s foreign policy positions with regard to Turkey. Koumoutsakos said the comments by Katrougalos were the latest in a string of statements by Premier Alexis Tsipras, former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and SYRIZA MPs that open the door to Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The ND official rued that Katrougalos’s remarks were made a day after the trilateral summit between Greece, Israel and Cyprus with the participation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Katrougalos dismissed his remarks as petty partisan politics.
“The respect for international law in general and the law of the sea in particular are constants of our national foreign policy, which underpin and do not question the sovereign rights of our country,” he said, adding that these are self-evident facts that should not be called into question.
In their joint briefing, Katrougalos defended Cyprus’s “self-evident” right to manage the reserves in its exclusive economic zone for the benefit of both communities on the divided island, acknowledging that Turkey too has rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
He also reiterated Greece’s support for Turkey’s European Union prospects, saying that it is in the interests of everyone to have “a friendly European Turkey on our eastern border.” Cavusoglu said the two men discussed hydrocarbon exploration, the “Turkish” minority in Thrace and the Cyprus dispute.