The European Union’s solidarity often gets abused as the most recent example of the interception of a Turkish-flagged merchant ship by the bloc’s military Operation Irini has shown, Turkey’s top diplomat said on Dec. 2.
“Recently Irini operation was used as a tool against Turkey. The operation on Nov. 22 gave the order to embark a Turkish flagged merchant ship without our preliminary consent. This was a clear violation of international law,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, speaking at the TRT World Forum.
He said that as far as geopolitics is concerned, this interstate is a permanent fact of the relationship, and this case will be valid even after the COVID-19 period. “A few actors are actively destabilizing our region. Turkey plays a key role in stopping these initiatives,” Çavuşoğlu stated.
In the eastern Mediterranean, Greece and Greek Cypriots unilaterally try to impose their maximalist approach, the minister said, noting that Turkey’s primary issue is to protect the rights of Turkish Cyprus and Turkey.
“We often see how EU solidarity is abused to support the nationalist agenda of these members,” he stated.
Çavuşoğlu noted that in any case, Ankara is ready for dialogue and cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean. “That is why we called for an Eastern Mediterranean Regional Conference with the participation of all coastal states, including Turkish Cypriots,” he added.
NATO members Turkey and Greece have conflicting claims over continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions flared in August when Ankara sent Oruç Reis to map out energy drilling prospects in waters also claimed by Greece.
Turkey’s research vessel Oruç Reis returned to the port of the southern province of Antalya after finishing seismic studies in the eastern Mediterranean, less than two weeks before a European Union summit where the bloc will evaluate possible sanctions against Ankara.
Hurriyet Daily News