Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that he would not bow to threats regarding the dispute with Greece and Cyprus over maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean as the EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss the issue.
According to a Reuters article, Erdogan stated that Turkey is open to negotiations over the conflicting claims to continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources.
The EU ministers were due to evaluate grounds for sanctions against Turkey. The bloc’s leaders will decide on Thursday whether to make good on their threat after Turkey sent an exploration vessel into waters claimed by Greece.
“In the eastern Mediterranean issue, our country never sides with tension, but with peace, cooperation, fairness and implementing justice. The path to this goes through negotiations based on mutual respect“, Erdogan stated.
He added that Turkey would not allow a “pirate mentality” shown by other countries to restrict it to a narrow strip of coastal water.
“We will not bow down to threats and blackmail […] We will not allow imperialist expansionism“, Erdoğan said.
The EU’s Parliament has called for sanctions against Turkey over Erdogan’s visit to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state of Northern Cyprus – which is recognized only by Ankara – and over the Turkish operations in the eastern Mediterranean, which it called illegal.
France is leading the push in the EU to sanction Turkey at the summit on 10-11 December. Diplomats say any measures would likely target areas of Turkey’s economy linked to hydrocarbon exploration.
Tensions flared in August when Turkey sent a survey vessel to map out energy drilling prospects in waters also claimed by Greece. The two countries agreed to resume talks over their contested maritime claims in September, ending a 4-year hiatus.
But Greece has since said it would not begin talks as long as Turkish vessels were in contested waters. The seismic vessel in question, Oruc Reis, returned to port last week.
To clarify Oruc Reis’ seismic work, it started In August but turkey announced that it was carrying on with its exploration attempts in a disputed area of the East Mediterranean until mid-September.
The vessel then carried out a seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean over ten days in October. Turkey then extended Oruc Reis’ seismic survey operations in November. At the time, the survey vessel was accompanied by the Ataman and Cengiz Han vessels.
In other Turkey-related hydrocarbon exploration news, Turkey’s oil company TPAO started drilling a second borehole on the Sakarya natural gas field in the Black Sea where it made its largest-ever discovery earlier this year with the Tuna-1 (Danube-1) well.