The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has urged Turkey to respect the borders of Greece and Cyprus, following its earlier threats to drill for oil and gas inside Greece’s territorial waters.
Further, Borrell also stated that the EU was closely monitoring Turkey’s announcement that it will continue engaging in hydrocarbon explorations near the Greek islands.
Regarding Turkey’s violations of Greek sovereignty, Borrell said “We are in close contact with our colleagues, the foreign ministers of Greece and also Cyprus, in order to follow the situation of the drillings, and we are calling on Turkey to stop drilling in areas where there is the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) or territorial waters of Cyprus and Greece.”
He added that the Foreign Affairs Council also had “already delivered a strong message addressed to Turkey.”
Borrell noted that Ankara’s European Union membership request could be affected by its violation of Greek sovereignty.
“Some member states even consider that as far as the drilling continues, talks should not be continuing. But I think the only way of solving this kind of issue is to reach out closer to see what we can do in order to make Turkey understand that our good relations will depend critically on the respect of the sovereignty of Cyprus and Greece in the waters under dispute,” he stated.
On Monday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement that the Turkish request to carry out “petroleum explorations in the region of the Greek continental shelf is part of a series of actions by the neighbouring country, which is gradually trying to usurp the sovereign rights of Greece.”
“Turkey’s illegal actions… cannot match Greek sovereignty based on international law and maritime law,” said Dendias, adding that Greece “is prepared to face this new provocation, if Turkey finally puts it into effect.”
The Turkish entrance into Greek waters comes after Ankara signed an agreement last year with the current Libyan government in Tripoli, which claimed extensive areas of the Mediterranean Sea for Turkey. The agreement has been condemned as illegal and void by Greece and many other countries.
It is clear that Ankara is using the agreement to challenge Greek sovereignty, standing by its position that the Greek islands cannot claim control over the country’s own continental shelf, but rather only six nautical miles of territorial waters.