On Friday, Turkey described the statement issued by southern European leaders who threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara over its dispute with Greece over energy rights and the demarcation of maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, as “biased.”
Turkey’s quest to find gas and oil reserves in waters claimed by Greece has increased the level of tension in the relationship between the two countries, which are members of NATO.
The two countries entered into a sharp verbal exchange in a dispute that attracted several powers from the European Union to Egypt and Libya.
France has thrown its weight behind Greece, sending warships and warplanes as part of an escalating dispute over energy resources and maritime influence in the eastern Mediterranean.
After talks with the leaders of Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Cyprus, Macron said that these countries wish to engage again in a dialogue with Turkey with “good intentions.”
Macron angered Ankara by saying that the “great” Turkish people deserved something else rather than the way President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government was dealing with the crisis.
However, its closing statement suggested that sanctions would be imposed in the event that Ankara failed to stop its “confrontational actions.” The statement stated that the European Union “is ready to draw up a list of further restrictions” that may be discussed in the European Council on September 24-25.
On Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry considered that “the phrases in the joint statement are biased, detached from reality and lacking a legal basis.”
Ankara says it has the largest coastline of all the eastern Mediterranean countries, but it has a disproportionately small share of the sea’s wealth due to Greek islands, some of which are virtually within sight of Turkey’s coast.
Athens responds by saying that its water claims are based on international law and previous agreements signed by Ankara.
The dispute gradually turned into a personal hostility between Macron and Erdogan, who exchanged insults and threatened each other with the power of their armies.
The dispute escalated on August 10, when Turkey sent the Aruj Reis vessel to explore natural gas and warships to the water areas claimed by Greece and which Ankara considers its subsidiaries.
Greece responded by conducting naval military exercises alongside several European Union countries in addition to the Emirates, which were held in close proximity to smaller exercises conducted by Turkey between Cyprus and Crete last week.
Ankara has repeatedly stressed that it is ready to hold talks with Greece without “preconditions,” although Germany’s efforts to mediate between the two neighboring countries affiliated with NATO have so far failed to bear fruit.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated, “We call on Greece to abandon its illegal and exaggerated demands in the maritime areas,” calling on the European Union countries to support Greece’s demands to “abandon its unilateral approach.”
However, Greece announced that it would not enter any talks with Turkey until after its exploration ships were withdrawn.
And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he would visit Cyprus Saturday in an attempt to resolve the conflict “in a diplomatic and peaceful manner.”