Turkey seeks 'solution-oriented approach' by European Union to east Med issues

Clay Curtis
October 17, 2020

"Oruc Reis has returned to his duties in the Eastern Mediterranean", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday in a speech to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group, adding that "Greece has not kept its promises".

Ankara says the Oruc Reis was redeployed following provocative acts by Athens, including a decision to hold military drills in the Aegean Sea on Turkey's main national holiday. But instead of an invitation, we had a provocation and, in fact, a double one.

Two weeks after their last summit where leaders discussed economic sanctions, the European Union has so far failed to persuade Ankara to stop exploring in waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus.

Given Berlin's efforts to mediate between the parties "the behavior by Turkey to conduct another provocation, resulting in the already agreed process of dialogue not taking place, is more than annoying, including for us in our role as intermediary", Maas said.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades "will submit the latest Turkish provocations" to fellow European Union leaders, Petsas said, adding: "Sanctions are still on the table".

During his speech, Erdogan also rebuffed worldwide criticism over Turkey's move to open the beachfront of Cyprus' fenced-off suburb of Varosha in divided Cyprus' breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.

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Before-school and after-school programs will also continue to be exempt from these new restrictions and will remain open.

During his recent brief meeting with his Greek counterpart, the Turkish foreign minister had promised to propose a date for the 61st round of exploratory talks to be held in Turkey. Maas on Tuesday criticized Turkey for "unilateral steps" in the eastern Mediterranean that are undercutting efforts to de-escalate tensions with Greece and Cyprus over sea boundaries and drilling rights. It had been abandoned since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

Turkey on Thursday denied accusations by Greece that Ankara refused an overflight permit to a plane carrying Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, forcing the aircraft to remain in the air for 20 minutes.

He stated that the Turkish authorities had approved Greece's request immediately and without delay.

In Athens, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said the Greek foreign ministry had "taken the necessary actions with a [diplomatic] protest".

Aksoy suggested that the plane in question had taken off from Iraq without submitting a flight plan, explaining that flight plans are reported via the Eurocontrol system.

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