Turkey calls on EU to be impartial on Med row, boost dialogue
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on the EU to adopt an impartial line in dealing with the ongoing tension between Turkey and Greece over the eastern Mediterranean and to provide conditions for a constructive dialogue in a letter he sent to all the EU leaders except for Greece and Greek Cyprus ahead of the European Council summit slated for Oct. 1 and 2.
“Our expectation from the EU is to remain impartial, to maintain an equal distance from everyone, as well as to promote dialogue and cooperation,” read Erdoğan’s letter to 25 EU leaders.
“I wish that the EU supports these thoughts of ours, drops the partial position that it has taken up against a candidate country, Turkey, and does not unjustly and unconditionally advocate the maximalist theses of Greece and the [Greek Cypriot Administration] GCA,” he said.
“The partial stance that the EU has been demonstrating against my country contravenes the EU acquis and international law. This very partial stance complicates the solution, heightens tensions and harms Turkey-EU relations, as well as our common interests in many areas.”
Turkey and Greece were in a two-month-long standoff over the overlapping continental shelf claims in the eastern Mediterranean. The two sides will launch a new round of technical talks in the coming period after Germany’s insistent mediation efforts. The EU leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday to make a general assessment on the situation in the region. Despite Greece and Greek Cyprus’ pressure, sanctions against Turkey are not expected to be imposed at the meeting.
Novel challenge in Turkey-EU ties
Turkey and EU ties are facing another novel challenge due to the developments in the eastern Mediterranean Erdoğan said, explaining the Turkish positions on the problem.
“Our eastern Mediterranean policy has two main objectives. The first one is the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in an equitable, just and fair way in the eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law and the protection of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our continental shelf. The second one is securing equal rights and interests for Turkish Cypriots over the hydrocarbon resources of the island of Cyprus, as the co-owners of the island,” he stressed.
Turkey wishes that the eastern Mediterranean becomes a region where all parties cooperate, hydrocarbon resources are shared equitably and fairly, and where peace and stability prevail, the president underlined.
‘Root causes Greece, Greek Cyprus’
Erdoğan accused Greece and Greek Cyprus of being the root causes of the tension by disregarding Turkey and Turkish Cypriots through unilateral steps and fait accompli since 2003.
“Greece, along with the GCA, tried to impose on Turkey its maximalist maritime jurisdiction claims that aim to imprison Turkey inside the Gulf of Antalya [Sevilla Map] by using the EU and claimed that these are national and the EU’s external maritime boundaries. The Greek/Greek Cypriot duo further went on to establish a mechanism under the name of Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and also founded tripartite and quadripartite mechanisms of cooperation against Turkey with countries in the region,” he said.
Turkey to protect its rights
Turkey started to take steps on the ground in 2018 after its calls for dialogue and cooperation failed to yield any results, the Turkish president recalled. “Turkey advocates a just and equitable delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in the eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law.”
“On the other hand, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots should establish a cooperation mechanism, including an equitable revenue sharing of hydrocarbon resources, as co-founders of the dissolved Republic of Cyprus and co-owners of the Island,” the president stressed, adding that “in order to establish such a cooperation mechanism, there is no need to wait for the settlement of the Cyprus issue. Because both parties on the island operate through international oil companies in their respective designated license areas.”
He also stressed on the creation of an inclusive energy cooperation forum that will bring together all parties in the eastern Mediterranean, including Turkish Cypriots.
Dialogue for equitable solution
Turkey has always stood ready for dialogue and has not succumbed to the maximalist demands that have been attempted to be imposed upon us through the EU, Erdoğan reiterated.
“It is our common responsibility to find an equitable and peaceful solution to the issues in the eastern Mediterranean. In this regard, dialogue and cooperation should be promoted and steps and decisions which could further aggravate the current crisis should be avoided. Our sincere desire is the revision of the March 18, 2016 Statement, with due consideration to the current circumstances, and a step by step strengthening of Turkey-EU relations with all its aspects and in line with our common interests,” he said.