Turkey rebukes EU statement on EastMed tensions

Turkey on Saturday called a joint statement by EU foreign ministers condemning its activities in Greek and Cypriot territories “a by-product of unjust and unlawful claims” and asked the bloc to reconsider their attitude on the issues.

The EU Council statement released on Friday denounced the allegations of Turkey violating of Greek airspace and territorial waters as well as Ankara’s plans to drill for natural gas inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Turkey should avoid making threats and taking actions that damage good neighbourly relations,” the statement said, adding it should respect international laws on territorial boundaries and sovereignty of all EU member states.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said the EU statement was “a by-product of unjust and unlawful claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration” and did not “stand any chance” of contributing to peace and stability in the region.

“What the EU needs to do, instead of acting blindly as the mouthpiece of Greece and the GCA under a pretext of solidarity, is to proceed with common sense while taking international law into consideration as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Aksoy said.

Tensions have been simmering between the East Mediterranean countries in recent weeks over a dispute on gas exploration rights off the coast of Cyprus.

Cyprus said on Wednesday a plane carrying tonnes of medical aid to Greek Cyprus from China was denied clearance into Turkish airspace, diverting the flight towards Moscow. Turkey defended its decision, saying the GCA did not submit a timely overflight request prior to the plane’s takeoff and had only made the request when approaching Turkish airspace.