Turkey, drilling ship in the Mediterranean

Turkey ready to negotiate with Greece on the Eastern Mediterranean

Ankara claims to be ready for dialogue with Athens, but warns that will not accept a “fait accompli” policy or renounce its rights in Cyprus and the Mediterranean.

Turkey is ready to negotiate with Greece in a fourth round of contacts after three previous meetings in which the two neighbouring countries have tried to approach positions and iron out their differences regarding territorial disputes in the waters of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, announced on Wednesday the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.

“We have notified the other party that we are ready to hold the fourth meeting in Ankara. We hope that the Greek side will attend this meeting,” said Akar, who nonetheless criticised the bellicose and negative rhetoric of other countries, including Greece, for the growing Turkish presence in the Mediterranean.

“At the same time, various statements were made from various sources. One of them says that ‘We cannot leave the security of the Eastern Mediterranean to Turkey.’ Let those who say this look at their own history, at our history, at the history of the Eastern Mediterranean. Our troops there, our forces, as well as our ancestors, as in the past, have the capacity to do everything necessary with regard to security there,” said Akar.

“Therefore, language is very important in this type of relationship. The parties should use language with care when making their statements,” said the Turkish minister, asking other countries to avoid falling into “provocation.” “What we say is: we are going to find the answer to the question ‘What can we do together?’ Therefore, we invite our neighbours to follow this path,” he added.

Turkey warns that it will not give up its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey announced on July 28 the temporary suspension of its planned drilling activities in Mediterranean waters by the ship Oruç Reis, as a gesture of good will in the face of talks with Greece, in which Germany acts as a mediating country.

The Oruç Reis and two other support ships were scheduled to start operations south of Rhodes, a conflict area because it is within the continental shelf of Turkey, but at the same time claimed by Greece for the proximity of its islands, a claim that Ankara considers illegal and not in accordance with international laws, since Athens claims that a 10 km2 island, located 2 km from Turkey and 580 km from Greece, entitles a 40,000 km2 “extended” continental shelf.

However, Akar clarified that this invitation by Turkey to dialogue and negotiation should not be perceived by other countries in the region as a sign of weakness, but rather the opposite, and stressed once again that Ankara will not tolerate any “fait accompli” policy neither in Cyprus nor in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In this regard, the Turkish Defense Minister insisted that his country has every right to conduct prospecting for gas resources both in the waters off North Cyprus and in the area under Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction, and to benefit from its findings in the Eastern Mediterranean despite protests from Greece. “We are definitely going to use this right, we are using it. No one should doubt it,” he concluded.