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Iran Press TV

Turkey-Greece standoff: Erdogan urges EU sincerity in resolving territorial dispute

Iran Press TV

Monday, 07 September 2020 9:16 AM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told European Council President Charles Michel that the European Union's response to the East Mediterranean dispute would be a test of the bloc's sincerity.

Greece and Turkey have been locked in a long-lasting territorial dispute over hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tensions escalated when Turkey dispatched a research vessel escorted by its Navy warships to explore gas and oil reserves in the East Mediterranean.

Subsequently, military drills were launched by both sides in the waters.

On Thursday, as tensions between the two putative NATO allies escalated, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made an abortive attempt to establish a deconfliction mechanism by asking Greece and Turkey to start technical talks to avoid accidental clashes.

The next day, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis responded, saying Athens would begin technical talks with Turkey only when Ankara's "provocations" ceased.

Brussels decided to resolve the issue after the Turkish row with Greece extended to other EU members.

Michel said on Friday that Brussels will manage to resolve the issue by devising a "carrot and stick" approach towards Turkey when EU leaders meet on Sept. 24-25.

In a statement released by the presidential office on Sunday, Erdogan was cited as having told Michel that the EU's attitude regarding the issue would be a test of Brussels' sincerity and impartiality in resolving the dispute between the two neighbors.

"President Erdogan said the attitude shown by the EU in the Eastern Mediterranean will be a test of sincerity from the perspective of international law and regional peace," the Turkish president was cited as saying in the statement.

"President Erdogan called on EU institutions and member countries to behave responsibly and remain just, impartial and objective on all regional issues, notably the Eastern Mediterranean," it added.

In related news, Turkey's National Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the country's energy exploration ship and its Navy escorts were afloat in the Eastern Mediterranean, determined to get the mission done.

"Strong, Determined and Powerful! The frigates and corvettes belonging to our Naval Forces are resolutely continuing their duty of escorting/protecting the ORUC REIS research ship, which continues to work in our jurisdiction areas in the Eastern Mediterranean," the ministry posted on Twitter with a nearly two-minute video of the ships at work.

"No lawlessness or bullying will be allowed in the region!" the ministry added.

War 'a matter of time'

The rising tensions between the EU and Turkey over the disputed waters and the resources hidden there, and the two sides' refusal to compromise, have raised the specter of a possible military confrontation in the region.

Turkish veteran politician Devlet Bahceli, who is the leader of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an Erdogan ally, said that war between Turkey and Greece was "just a matter of time."

"It is inconceivable to turn our backs on our historical interests in the Mediterranean and the Aegean," Bahçeli noted, adding, "The attitude and behavior of Greece will be what will determine the increasing tensions that will cause bleeding or an abominable confrontation."

The energy rivalry has lowered the already dim prospect of Turkey's membership in the EU.

Particularly, France has been outraged over Turkey's explorations in the East Mediterranean waters, building up its military strength in the region and conducting joint drills with Greece.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has advised French President Emmanuel Macron to stop meddling in Turkish affairs and avoid making "hysterical" mistakes.

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