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Politics

Turkey Wants EU to Rein in EU Members Greece, Cyprus

With Turkey drilling for energy off Cyprus and trying to do the same off Greek islands, violating the seas of both countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants the European Union to side with him in provocations over the seas.

“If the EU wants to be a part of the process that aims peace, prosperity and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, it must be objective and honest,” Hami Aksoy,  spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in a written statement.

“As shared with the public earlier, the calls for restraint should be directed to Greece and the Greek-Cypriot administration, which harm EU's interests and escalate tension by exploiting the EU membership solidarity, rather than Turkey on the side of dialogue and cooperation,” he said, Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency reported.

Turkey has been trying to join the EU since 2005 but refuses to recognize the legitimate government of Cyprus where it has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion and bars its ships and planes.

Aksoy was responding to an EU teleconference in which the bloc's leaders shied away from confronting Erdogan, fearful he will unleash more refugees and migrants through Greek islands.

But the EU released a mild statement of solidarity and support with Greece and Cyprus, still enough to irk Turkey, with Aksoy saying it showed the bloc is “held hostage to the manipulation and blackmail of the two member states.”

He said Turkey wants good relations as long as Greece and Cyprus make the concessions in their dispute over who owns right to the seas in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

Turkey claims parts of Greece's Continental Shelf and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around islands, including near Kastellorizo, not far from the Turkish coast, where Erdogan sent an energy research vessel and 10 warships, now in a standoff with the Greek Navy.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, whose government has licensed foreign companies to drill for oil and gas offshore, offered to give 30 percent of potentially lucrative revenues to the Turkish-Cypriot side but was rejected.

Turkey wants Turkish-Cypriots to take part in the licensing and other policies on the island although they are a minority and the last round of reunification talks fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

That happened when Turkey said it would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied side and wanted the right of military intervention – invasion – again when it wanted.

Erdogan has said the only solution to the dispute lies through dialogue and negotiation, and Greece to respect Turkey’s rights while he doesn't respect Greece's and has been accused of using gunboat diplomacy to get his way.

Turkey's claims to some Greek waters came in a maritime deal signed with Libya dividing the seas between them, unrecognized by another country and planned talks in Ankara were canceled by Erdogan after Greece countered with a similar deal with Egypt setting seas boundaries and EEZ's.

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