On August 26th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkey would take “whatever belongs to it” in the Mediterranean, as well as Aegean and the Black Sea.
'Turkey will defend its rights in East Med, Aegean, Black Sea'#Turkey has no designs on anyone's lands, #sovereignty, but will not make concessions on its rights, says President @RTErdoganhttps://t.co/7LgYCyT8Rm pic.twitter.com/H2GkYwXoCc
— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) August 26, 2020
“Turkey has no designs on any other country’s lands, sovereignty, or interests, but it will never make concessions on what rightfully belongs to it,” he said.
According to him, Turkey urges everyone to avoid making missteps which could lead to their destruction, amid disputes with Greece on Turkey’s sovereign rights over maritime territory and energy resources.
He also made a historical jab, saying that those “unworthy of even the Byzantine heritage today commit injustices and piratical moves counting on the support of Europeans, which shows that they have failed to learn from history.”
Erdogan announced on August 21st that Turkey has found some 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves after its drill ship Fatih started work on July 20th off the Black Sea coast.
On the previous day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, as Berlin is seeking to mediate the issues in the Mediterranean Sea.
Cavusoglu said that Turkey was willing to involve itself in dialogue.
However, he also said that Greece was ready to do “whatever is necessary” to protect its legitimate interests in the region.
He also urged Greece not to “put itself at risk” by rising to the bait of “some countries” in the Eastern Mediterranean but instead to act in line with reason so there are no conflicts in the region.
He did not name any countries, but Greece works with France and Egypt against Turkish maritime foreign policy.
Çavuşoğlu stressed that the recent escalation in tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean is due to Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration’s approach, not Turkey’s, citing Greece’s military exercises in the region on August 24th as proof.
He failed to mention that Turkey also carried out military exercises in the same region over the same days.
Turkey is ready to discuss the Eastern Mediterranean issue with all countries in the region, he said, adding that there should not be any preconditions during talks.
Turkey would only not discuss any issues with the Greek Cypriot administration, which it doesn’t recognize.
Çavuşoğlu underlined that Greece and the Greek Cypriots have pursued a “maximalist” agenda in the Eastern Mediterranean and held unilateral activities that have raised tensions.
The Greek government and Greek Cypriot administration should act in the light of reason.
“If there was fair sharing here, instead of unilateral impositions, this would benefit everyone,” he added.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that any escalation would not assist anybody.
“We have addressed the dangerous situation. It worries not only the EU but also NATO allies,” he said.
“The important thing now is to take steps to reduce tensions and to be ready for sincere dialogue. I hear the readiness for dialogue on both sides. Therefore, I think these controversial issues can be resolved. This can only be done through direct negotiations between Greece and Turkey,” he said.
Earlier, when in Athens, Maas warned after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias that “any spark, however small, could lead to a disaster.”
“No one can have an interest in that, and certainly not in a military confrontation between NATO partners and neighbors,” Maas said.
Greek Foreign Minister Dendias said that Greece “has proved that it is and remains always ready for dialogue.”
However, he said, “there cannot be dialogue under threats, there cannot be dialogue under provocations, and ultimately dialogue cannot be considered, not only for Greece but for any state, when its sovereign rights and sovereignty are being violated.”
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