Turkey’s ongoing activities in the eastern Mediterranean are aiming to obtain its rights and interests given by the international law, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, amid Ankara’s continued calls for all the relevant parties to engage in dialogue for a resolution to the existing problems on the basis of equity.
“At the core of our activities in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean lies our search for rights and justice. An attempt to confine Turkey to its shores over an island with just 10 square kilometers at the expense of ignoring Turkey with its 780,000-square-kilometer huge size,” Erdoğan said at the opening ceremony of the new judicial year on Sept. 1.
Erdoğan referred to Meis Island, just two kilometers off the Turkish shores but 580 kilometers to the Greek mainland through which Athens is trying to obtain an additional 40,000 square kilometers of maritime jurisdiction area, that a small island like that can only have territorial waters and not the continental shelf. Tension over the differing views on sovereign rights has pitted the two neighbors against each other.
All the littoral countries of the Mediterranean have rights about the regional richness, Erdoğan said, describing the efforts by some countries to ignore the rights of the others as an example of modern colonialism.
The president also indirectly criticized France for using Greece against Turkey in the name of its secret goals as a big injustice. “We are fed up with this shadowboxing. Using a country that is not able at all as bait against Turkey, a regional and global power, is turning comical,” he said.
The era of these former colonial powers is long over, Erdoğan said, vowing that they won’t be able to stop what he calls as “the awakening for justice”.
Turkey’s foreign minister calls for dialogue
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu renewed Turkey’s calls for dialogue for the resolution of the problems stemming from overlapping continental shelf claims of the littoral countries.
“We always tell that we are ready to sit around a table and negotiate with everybody in the eastern Mediterranean for a fair solution on the basis of equitable share [of the richness],” he told in a joint press conference with visiting Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum on Sept. 1 in Ankara.
“We have made our necessary moves only after our calls for dialogue have not been heard,” he said, referring Greece’s signing a maritime deal with Egypt just a day before when Turkey and Greece were suggested to announce the start of reconciliatory talks.
Çavuşoğlu criticized Greece for taking unilateral and provocative steps recently in a bid to isolate Turkey and cited the troop deployment to Meis Island in violation of the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.
The treaty stipulates a demilitarized status to the island and that no troops but limited police or gendarmerie can be stationed on Meis, said the minister, stating that “If Greece exceeds the limits, it will be the one who will lose.”
Turkey will protect its rights and will not allow others to exploit its interests in the region, “I want to repeat our call to Greece. Don’t act against Turkey by the provocations or use of others. You will come out a loser,” said Çavuşoğlu.
Hurriyet Daily News