US Presence in Eastern Mediterranean Poses No Threat to Ankara, Turkish Head of Parliament Says

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MOSCOW (Sputnik), Ksenia Shakalova – While the US involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean does not serve the cause of peace and stability in the region, it also does not pose a threat to Turkey, Mustafa Sentop, the speaker of the Turkish parliament, told Sputnik.

“The decision to base a navy ship in Souda Bay is another symbolic gesture in this regard. These actions by the U.S. will not serve peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, nor do they serve the strategic interests of the U.S. …Despite everything, I do not believe the presence of US in the East Mediterranean would be a threat to Turkey’s security, since there has been a strong alliance between Turkey and US for almost 70 years”, he said.

The politician noted that the record of Washington’s activity in the region had been ambiguous, with the United States first calling for dialogue and then choosing to support the Greek Cypriot administration.

The statement comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced during his Saturday visit to Cyprus that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, as the US plans to build a new training centre (Cyprus Center for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security, or CYCLOPS) on the island.

Cyprus and Turkey have been engaged in a prolonged dispute over offshore drilling rights since 2011, with the conflict escalating in the recent months after Ankara sent research ships to the waters claimed by Athens and Nicosia. The Eu supported its member states, warning Turkey that the further escalation may result in serious sanctions against Anakara.

Possibility of EU Sanctions

The speaker of the Turkish Parliament also commented on the possibility of punitive measures against Ankara by Brussels, amid escalating disagreements between Turkey and the bloc members (Cyprus and Greece) in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The European Union’s stance on this issue has been very problematic. Supporting Greece unconditionally no matter how irrational it acts has yielded no results other than escalating the problem and moving to a deadlock”, he noted.

“I strongly believe that the EU should remain impartial and maintain an equal distance from everyone to promote dialogue and cooperation”, Sentop added.

According to the politician, the presence of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean cannot be described solely due to strategic resources. He stressed that if sanctions are imposed, Ankara “has the tools and the means to reciprocate any policy the EU might adopt against Turkey”.

Tensions Over Nagorno-Karabakh

Sentop also addressed the reports of militants, who, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, were sent to Baku via the Turkish city of Gaziantep amid the escalation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“There is a huge gap and conflict between what Mr Macron desires and what he can realistically hope to achieve in international politics. Therefore, he often tries to fill this gap with unfounded claims and self-deceiving excuses. And when he also fails to do this, his habit of blaming others comes into play”, the speaker responded.

He also cited claims that “France is involved in the transfer of YPG/PKK terrorists to train Armenian militias”. According to Sentop, cooperation between the Armenians and YPG/PKK militia on French soil “does not sound impossible”, adding that Macron’s claims could possibly be put down to “psychological projection theory”.

Answering a question about the possible deployment of Turkish forces in Karabakh, he stressed that Azerbaijani troops “have shown the whole world that they have the ability and qualifications to achieve victory on their own”.

“Therefore, I do not think that such a proposal will be needed as long as third parties do not get involved in this conflict, ignoring the UN resolutions confirming the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by the Armenian Armed Forces”, Sentop stressed

“Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan is unwavering under any circumstances. We declare our commitment to support Azerbaijan by all means and in any way Azerbaijan wishes”.

Sputnik

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