Erdoğan says eastern Mediterranean is test of EU's sincerity

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan told European Council President Charles Michel on Sunday that the European Union’s stance towards the eastern Mediterranean would be a test of its sincerity.

Tensions have been escalating between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus over potentially rich hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, especially after Ankara sent a research vessel escorted by Turkish warships to a disputed area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete on Aug. 10.

Erdoğan called on the EU to take an impartial stance in Turkey’s row with Greece, and he said provocative comments and steps by European politicians on regional matters would not help achieve a solution, according to a statement by his office.

“President Erdoğan called on EU institutions and member countries to behave responsibly and remain just, impartial and objective on all regional issues, notably the Eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.

Michel said on Friday that EU leaders plan to adopt a “carrot and stick” approach to Turkey at a Sept. 24-25 summit and proposed a multilateral conference focusing on sea borders in the eastern Mediterranean, including NATO.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Greece and Turkey had agreed to start technical talks to avoid accidental clashes in the region.

Athens says Ankara must first withdraw its ships from drilling areas and that talk of an agreement to conduct negotiations does not correspond with reality.