EU expresses solidarity, urges dialogue
The leaders of the European Union expressed their solidarity with Greece and Cyprus during an extraordinary summit on Wednesday, at the same time stressing the need to resolve their differences with Turkey through dialogue.
A more comprehensive examination of the Turkish issue was deferred to the extraordinary summit on September 24 and 25.
Even though on Wednesday’s teleconference focused on sanctions in Belarus, there was also extensive discussion about continued Turkish activity in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that “at the moment Turkey is systematically violating international law,” while insisting that Greece has never refused dialogue with Turkey.
“But not as long as there is tension at sea, on land and in the air, and, in any case, this dialogue will only be on our difference, which is the delimitation of the maritime zones,” he clarified. He also presented the facts on how the situation unfolded in the area after Turkey issued its illegal navigational advisory, or Navtex, analyzing the security risks for Europe itself.
Mitsotakis also backed the assertion by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades regarding the EU’s perceived double standards when it came to its response to Belarus and Turkey.
For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her concern over the growing tensions, stressing that every effort must be made to de-escalate the situation.
“It is very dangerous,” she said, noting that “the dialogue on the contentious issues of the demarcation of the maritime borders, especially between Greece and Turkey, must resume.”
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that “the most important thing is the willingness of all parties to engage in dialogue.”
What’s more, voicing the European Council’s solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, its president, Charles Michel, said that “all options are on the table,” regarding the EU’s response to Turkish transgressions. According to Greek sources, among these options are tough sanctions against Turkey.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz demanded “a clear reaction from the EU against Turkey.”
Referring to Turkey’s continued violation of Cyprus’ sovereign rights, Anastasiades stressed that the EU has a responsibility to respond to these serious challenges to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, noting that the escalation of Turkish aggression, as demonstrated now, cannot be dealt with by a lukewarm EU response.
Meanwhile, Mitsotakis’ national security adviser, Alexandros Diakopoulos, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, after the uproar that followed his comments on Tuesday to Greek TV that the Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis had actually conducted surveys in Greek territorial waters, even though the government has said it didn’t. His resignation was accepted by the PM.