NEWS

Turkey leaving ‘no room for constructive dialogue,’ says Greek FM

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Turkey’s continued violations in the Eastern Mediterranean, and its recent illegal Navtex reserving a part of the Aegean that overlaps with Greece’s continental shelf for hydrocarbon surveys, scupper any possibility of “constructive dialogue,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday.

“Turkey, from August and until now, has been constantly expanding its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, in blatant violation of international law and the Law of the Sea,” Dendias said in a statement published by the Foreign Ministry in Athens. “It is trying, by force, to create precedents at the expense of European Union member-states, and shows disdain for the clear positions and decisions of the EU, but also the appeals of the international community.”

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the European Council that is scheduled to take place on December 10-11, Dendias said that Turkey has passed up “yet another significant opportunity” to restore relations with the EU, adding that Turkey has “made a choice to act in a way that undermines international law and European objectives.”

Turkey’s behavior, he said, is “revisionist, destabilizing and dangerous to the security of the immediate and broader region, but also to the priorities and values expressed and promoted by the EU.”

Athens, said the foreign minister, continues to be open to dialogue with Ankara – on the condition that it cease its operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Dialogue, he said, is the only legal way to resolve differences over maritime borders with Ankara. “In a similar spirit, the EU has delayed decisions on measures and sanctions, stating that it willing to examine a positive agenda of actions and policies towards Turkey, but on the same condition: that Turkey’s illegal activities cease once and for all.”

Ankara’s recent actions, however, “scupper any prospect of dialogue with our country and, unfortunately, leave no room for any positive agenda at the upcoming European Council,” said Dendias, after Turkey over the weekend issued a new Navtex for its Oruc Reis seismic research vessel, reserving a maritime area just beyond the 6-nautical mile line off the coast of Kastellorizo.

Dendias added that any pretensions from Ankara’s part of “goodwill” and “positive gestures” will only serve to “exacerbate” Turkey’s negative image.

“Regardless of its recent claims, it will not be easy for Turkey to trick the EU this time. The European Union is not naïve,” Dendias said in an apparent response to the “hand of friendship” extended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Europe, via his representative, Ibrahim Kalin, who was in Brussels for this purpose last Friday.