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Iran Press TV

Turkey calls on EU to be honest broker in Greece maritime dipsute

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 08 December 2020 5:05 PM

Turkey has called on the European Union (EU) to be an honest broker in the country's standoff with Greece over oil and gas exploration rights in the east Mediterranean Sea.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the plea at a news conference with his visiting Hungarian counterpart in the capital, Ankara, on Tuesday, also saying Turkey sought to improve ties with the EU and issues between the two sides could be resolved if the EU "acts with common sense."

"They need to be fair and honest" on issues that concern Turkey and Greece, Cavusoglu said. "If they also think strategically and with common sense..., we achieve a positive atmosphere and we can improve our ties. We can only solve our problems with dialog and diplomacy."

The top Turkish diplomat reiterated that Ankara intended to join the bloc as a full member and said EU statements accusing Ankara of stoking tensions were wrong.

Cavusoglu's comments came a day after EU foreign ministers said they were considering sanctions against Turkey over its energy exploration in the disputed waters in the Mediterranean.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Ankara would not surrender to threats and blackmail over its exploration rights in the waters. He said Turkey was willing to resolve the dispute "through negotiations based on mutual respect."

Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, have been embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean over the region's natural resources.

In August, Turkey dispatched a seismic research vessel and warships escorting it to prospect for energy resources in the disputed waters, infuriating Greece and creating a weeks-long diplomatic crisis.

The EU, which has sided with member Greece, threatened Ankara with sanctions back in October.

Turkey's move in late November to return the exploration vessel to port has calmed the tensions, but the EU says Ankara's drill and survey ships have continued to work in contested waters elsewhere. Greece says that makes formal talks with Turkey over the issue impossible.

Turkey's energy exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean have also complicated the country's EU accession process, which has already been frozen over such issues as its human rights record.

Athens is pressing for punitive sanctions at an EU summit schedule to be held on December 10.

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