NEWS

Macron takes ‘firm’ stance opposite Turkey

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that Europe must be “clear and firm” with Turkey, appearing once again very supportive to Greece and Cyprus. 

In a joint news conference after the summit of the Med 7 of southern European leaders hosted by France, Macron said “ we want to avoid escalation of tensions, but Turkey should clarify its intentions in some areas."  

He even announced the extension of the sanctions list if Turkey does not choose to de-escalate tensions.

For his part, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the Mediterranean, as Macron has said, is mare nostrum (our sea) and “we will not allow Turkey to divide Europe on this issue.”

In its text of conclusions, the Med7 expressed its “full support and solidarity” toward Greece and Cyprus. It said all countries must comply with the International Law of the Sea and resolve their differences through dialogue.

The seven leaders also welcomed the mediation efforts of European Union High Representative Josep Borrell and Germany, with a view to continuing the dialogue between Greece and Turkey on the issue of maritime zones.

Taking into account the conclusions of the recent European Council, they also expressed regret that Turkey has not responded to the EU’s repeated calls to end its unilateral and illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s assertion by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during a teleconference with the European Parliament that Ankara is in favor of an unconditional dialogue was received in Athens as an effort to present Greece as an obstacle to the process.

Cavusoglu stressed that if Athens asks for conditions, then Ankara will also set its own, accusing Greece of torpedoing mediation efforts and saying it is not ready for an honest dialogue.

He said the maritime zones agreement between Athens and Cairo sank the German mediation effort last month for Greece and Turkey to start exploratory contacts in late August. It showed, he said, the “bad faith” of the Greek side.

Everyone, he said, was disappointed by the agreement, saying that Greece acted without informing anyone.

He also reiterated Turkey’s claims that its actions in the region are a response to a series of unilateral actions by Greece and Cyprus and their attempt to exclude his country from the exploitation of the region’s energy resources. 

What’s more, he protested that the EU is unfair and inconsistent with its principles, and urged member-states “not to provide blind support to Greece and Cyprus.”

At the same time the Turkish Defense Ministry sought to portray the presence on Thursday of Greek and Turkish representatives to NATO in the Brussels office of the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Stuart Peach, as the beginning of a Greek-Turkish dialogue of sorts, referring to an “exchange of views.”

However, shortly afterward, diplomatic sources in Athens stressed that the Greek representative Ioannis Pavlopoulos met Peach to submit Athens’ comments and clarifications on its proposals for the mechanism.

The so-called “exchange of views,” the source said, was between Pavlopoulos and Peach.