Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent very mixed signals in his remarks to European Union ambassadors at the presidential palace complex in Ankara on Tuesday.
He stated glowingly that “Talks with Greece can usher in a new era,” and that he was ready to “restore” what he claimed were Turkey’s relations with the EU. This relationship, of course, has been an extremely rocky one of late, with the past year seeing an unending string of incursions onto Greek and Cypriot waters and airspace by Turkey as it searches for oil and gas and flexes its military muscles in the Mediterranean.
Erdogan said “We are ready to put our relations with the European Union back on track,” adding “We hope that our European friends will show the same will.”
EU takes tough stance in December
The startling words come after strong terms were used in December by EU leaders at their Brussels meeting which dealt with Turkey’s repeated incursions onto European territory, especially in Greece and Cyprus, which were termed “illegal and aggressive” actions.
However, since that time, Turkish government figures have called on Europe to enter into new dialogues to help resolve the issues that they claim are causing the tensions, which include Turkey entering into the Syrian and Armenian conflicts this past year.
“It is within our capabilities to make 2021 a year of success for the relations between the EU and Turkey,” Erdogan stated today, adding “We can achieve this if we work with a long-term vision, away from prejudices and fears.”
He then asked the EU diplomats for their “support” in order to, as he claimed, “open a new page in relations between Turkey and the European Union.”
Just yesterday, January 25 was set as a date for new talks to begin between Greece and Turkey. The parleys will take place in Ankara.
Continued claims of illegal activity by Greece
In the same speech to the EU ambassadors, however, the Turkish President also accused Greece itself of raising tensions in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, calling on Athens to “cease activities… such as “airspace violations and illegal actions on the issue of the islands.”
Erdogan was echoing earlier comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, stating that “certain EU member-states have tried to solve their bilateral differences in the corridors of the EU.
“They have taken advantage of the EU’s agenda and hidden behind member-states’ solidarity,” the Turkish president said in what is being seen as a reference to Greece and Cyprus.
He maintained that Turkey has been “wronged” over the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus and “does not accept efforts to trap us on our coasts.”