ANKARA – At the same time Turkish fighter jets and ships keep violating Greek airspace and waters, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country is willing to compromise over rights to the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
But he said that’s dependent on Greece sharing the resources as Turkey is already drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters and do the same off Crete under deal made with Libya to divide the seas, claiming areas off Greek islands.
“We say to Greece ‘we can reach an agreement’ as long as you are ready to compromise. Be ready to share in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber.
“However, if you continue to usurp the rights of Turkish-Cypriots we will continue these steps,” Cavusoglu said, after he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said they would drill off Cyprus and Crete in any case.
He seemed to reach out a bit, however, after Greece angrily rejected a claim by Erdogan that he’s already made Greece accept that Turkey has rights in areas disputed, with Turkey not recognizing parts of Greece’s Continental Shelf.
“As we have repeatedly stressed, illegal actions produce no legal effect,” said Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas, who denounced “moves that continue to undermine regional peace and security, creating, among other things, pretexts for the violation of the arms embargo in Libya and for the attempt to usurp the sovereign rights of countries in the region.”
”Unfortunately, in this, too, Turkey continues to be a minority of one,” he said, reported Kathimerini.
Almost as he was offering a compromise, Turkey again violated Greek airspace, sending a pair of F-16 fighter over the small Aegean islands of Agathonissi, Arkioi, Lipsoi and Kinaros, forcing Greek jets to intercept them.
That continues a strategy of Turkey offering to talk and then undermining it almost immediately by ramping up provocations as Greece has denounced the Libya deal and sought to build an international alliance against the agreement.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said there wouldn’t be “a dishonorable and abusive compromise” with Turkey and added that Greece has always been willing to reach “an honorable understanding in the context of international law.”