Ankara seeking to expand agenda

Ankara seeking to expand agenda

In defiance of the European Summit conclusions, the Turkish Foreign Ministry insisted on Friday that exploratory contacts with Greece concern “all outstanding issues… and are not limited to delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas.” 

The announcement was seen in Athens as a bid to undermine the prospect of exploratory contacts before they even begin, given that the Greek government has clearly and repeatedly stated that it will not discuss the demilitarization of the islands, let alone issues regarding its sovereign rights. 

In its statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry bemoaned many areas of the EU summit decisions, saying they were “far from reality.” It said that the outcome of the summit showed EU-Turkey relations had been taken “hostage” by Greece and Cyprus. Ankara also rued the absence of any reference to the Turkish Cypriots and a fair distribution of profits from hydrocarbons found within Cyprus territorial waters.

It also stressed that without resolving the Cyprus issue, Ankara will continue its activities around the island. 

For his part, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “Greece is fully satisfied” with the summit conclusions as they reflected the government’s carrot-and-stick approach to Ankara. 

He noted that “it is clear from Paragraph 20 [of the conclusions] that if Turkey continues with its unilateral, aggressive behavior, there will be consequences.” 

“The EU will use, in this case, all the tools to defend its interests. Developments will be monitored. Any decisions will be taken by the end of December,” he added.

Mitsotakis also referred to Paragraph 16, which states that the exploratory contacts concern a single issue, “the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.” 

“Greece is ready, if we cannot reach an agreement, to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and accept its verdict.”

Regarding Cyprus, he said the conclusion also had “very clear references” to issues concerning the island, focusing on United Nations Resolution 550 about the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta.

“The final text is quite different from the original. I believe that we have come up with a very good text for Greece, Cyprus, Europe and EU-Turkey relations,” he said.

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