As Greece and Turkey are scheduled to hold a new round of consultative talks in Ankara on October 6, Turkey accused Greece and Cyprus on Saturday of “unilateral and provocative activities.”
Diplomats from the two nations will hold the 63rd round of talks to discuss bilateral issues. However, the talks are in danger of being sidelined by Turkey’s rhetoric.
“The main cause of the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years has been Greece’s and the Greek Cypriot administration’s maximalist maritime jurisdiction area claims and unilateral acts that ignore Turkey’s and the TRNC’s rights and interests,” a statement from the Turkish foreign ministry says.
Turkey condemns Greece and Cyprus moves
The ministry condemned Greece’s recent attempts “to violate the continental shelf” and the Cyprus’ government planned move to launch research activity on October 3 with an Italian-owned and Maltese-flagged ship.
Cyprus also plans to commence a new drilling operation in the south of the island in November, the statement said, adding that these actions breach TRNC’s rights and violate Turkey’s continental shelf.
“All necessary steps are being taken against these unilateral acts of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, both on the ground and at the table,” the ministry asserted.
France Greece defense deal irks Turkey
Defense analysts say that Turkey has been irked by the recent defense agreement between Greece and France.
Last week, Ankara said that “anti-Turkey military alliances harm the NATO alliance.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming that Greece’s “maximalist” claims regarding maritime zones and air space are against international law.
“It is vain for Greece to hope that it can make Turkey accept these claims, which are also questioned by the international community, through anti-Turkey military alliances, harming the NATO alliance,” the ministry said, referring to the French-Greek deal in which both countries committed to mutual defense assistance.
Greece aims to “isolate Turkey”
“Such futile efforts will only increase our determination to protect our rights as much as the rights of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ in the Aegean and the Mediterranean,” it added.
“Greece’s arming policies to isolate and alienate Turkey, in fact, are problematic policies that will harm the EU, to which it is itself a member, and threaten regional peace and stability.”
France and Greece signed Tuesday a multibillion-euro deal for Athens to buy three French warships, an accord hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as a major boost for the EU’s defense ambitions.
Greece: No intention to start arms race
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday that Greece has no intention of engaging in an arms race with Turkey.
“I do not intend to enter into an arms race with Turkey, and I’m always reaching out a hand of friendship to Turkey,” the Prime Minister said during a Democracy Forum conference in Athens.
“We have big differences on many issues, but there should be a way to solve these differences through dialogue,” Mitsotakis stressed. “At the same time, we will defend our territory, our territorial integrity, our sovereignty, our sovereign rights. And in order to do so, we need a strong deterrence.”