U.S. engages diplomatically with Turkey over E.Med dispute – Pompeo

The United States is using diplomatic efforts to ask Turkey to comply with rules for international waters regarding the country’s exploration efforts for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Greek journalist Alexis Papahelas on Saturday.

The United States “always does what it needs to do” to protect its own people and their commercial interests, Secretary Pompeo said, in case Turkey objects to U.S. companies’ explorations near Cyprus. The secretary had warned Turkey against “unacceptable” drilling activity on the day of the interview, in a separate comment.

Pompeo said he believed Greece and Turkey can engage in dialogue and peacefully solve their issues, and U.S. diplomats work constantly to create conditions to allow that. “No one wants … to end up in a bad place and create a military confrontation,” he said.

Turkey, not recognising the Greek Cypriot administration and therefore its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), maintains that drilling in certain areas infringes on the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

With Turkish drilling and seismic research vessels increasing their activity off Cyprus in 2019, Greek-Turkish relations have escalated with a dispute over maritime jurisdiction, which has been an issue since the island was divided along ethnic lines, with Turks in the north and Greeks in the south, in 1974.

As a commercial, military and political partner, Turkey’s prosperity and success is “important for not only Greece but for all,” Pompeo said, adding that the United States is doing all it can to prevent Turkey’s drift away from the West.

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