We must to de-escalate tensions in east Med, says Turkey's director of communications
Turkey’s Director of Communications Prof. Fahrettin Altun said on Sept. 24 that Turkey had to de-escalate tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and maintain the momentum towards a fair and lasting solution together at the “International Conference on the eastern Mediterranean."
Pointing out that the eastern Mediterranean had been called many things in recent years, Altun said, “Some former colonial empires see it as the birthplace of their new empires. Others consider it ‘the next global flashpoint.’ For Turkey, the eastern Mediterranean represents part of our Blue Homeland.”
“The Turkish people may disagree on certain issues, as people do in democracies, but we are united in our defense of Turkey’s rights and interests," Altun said.
"We know that the law is on our side. We know that the loudest voice in the room isn’t necessarily right. That’s why Turkey, under the leadership of our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been advocating diplomacy," he added.
Altun also said that a regional conference, which would include the Turkish Cypriots, must be the next step "to build on this momentum."
"This is the only way to create win-win solutions and use the region’s resources to promote peace,” Altun said, emphasizing that Turkey hopes to de-escalate tensions and turn the region into a "basin of peace and stability."
Expressing that they had gathered to tackle a series of questions to make sense of the issue during the conference, Altun said: “Those questions include, but are not limited to, the following: How does the eastern Mediterranean dispute fit into international law? What will be the impact of the eastern Mediterranean question on the future of bilateral and multilateral relations? What is Turkey’s vision for the eastern Mediterranean? Today’s event will facilitate a timely discussion on all those issues, and more."
'Turkey-EU dialogue crucial'
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran urged dialogue and cooperation between Turkey and the EU on the eastern Mediterranean as a way to contribute to security, stability and prosperity in the region.
Dialogue between Turkey and the EU is crucial for the eastern Mediterranean, said Kıran at the videoconference, urging Brussels to weigh the potential geopolitical profits and losses from its policies on the matter.
He expressed hope that the upcoming EU Leaders Summit next week in Brussels would pave the way for positive change, stressing that the eastern Mediterranean is a strategic gateway to the Middle East and Africa with 30% of global maritime trade taking place there.
Kıran underlined that Turkey aimed for the eastern Mediterranean, which has been experiencing instability and conflicts for a long time including the Syrian crisis and Cyprus dispute, to be a region of cooperation, adding that this would benefit all Mediterranean littoral countries.
He underlined that Turkey's main goals in the eastern Mediterranean are to delimit maritime jurisdictions according to international law, protect continental shelf rights, ensure equal rights for the peoples of Cyprus on offshore resources and make cooperation mechanisms with the involvement of all parties.
Turkey has always advocated dialogue based on fairness in the eastern Mediterranean, while Greece is trying to expand its maximalist maritime jurisdiction borders, he added.
Kıran urged the EU to abandon its stance on the eastern Mediterranean exclusively supporting one side, stressing that dialogue would not be possible in the presence of talk on sanctions.
He noted that President Erdoğan had called for a regional conference with all parties having interests in the eastern Mediterranean, including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
In promoting dialogue in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is also looking for a permanent and comprehensive solution in Cyprus, he added.
Turkish Cypriots are also the co-owners of Cyprus, Kıran said, adding that the Greek Cypriot people could not act as the island's sole owner and should share power and wealth with the Turkish people.
All sides can benefit from the eastern Mediterranean's energy potential through cooperation, he asserted.