Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says his country’s continental shelf is not up for discussion, accusing Greeks and Greek Cypriots of holding maximalist and uncompromising positions.
(Click here for an update to the story)
According to the Cyprus News Agency, Cavusoglu told a young audience recently that Turkey’s foreign policy was based on the idea that the country needed to be strong both out on the field and at the negotiating table.
Cavusoglu cited examples such as Syria, where Turkey was using military might to fight terrorism, while he also referred to drilling activities around Cyprus.
The Turkish foreign minister suggested that Greek Cypriots had been 'spoiled' by solidarity expressed among EU member states
The foreign minister suggested that Greek Cypriots had been “spoiled” by solidarity expressed among EU member states, saying Turkish positions and proposals had not been taken into consideration.
“So, then, what did we do? We took out our drilling ships and sent them over there and started drilling,” Cavusoglu said according to CNA.
“This is where we show our strength, out on the field, and now we move ahead with the diplomatic portion and we shall continue doing so because we are in the right. Besides, our continental shelf is not up for discussion and we won’t allow anyone to broach the topic. But when it comes to sharing natural resources in Cyprus, we have to be strong both on and off the field,” Cavusoglu said.
In a press release, the Turkish foreign ministry also laid blame on Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, saying Turkey had repeatedly invited all parties to engage in negotiations to find consensus “based on equity” while adding that the country remained open to such talks.
Turkey uses Kastellorizo as an example
The press release went on to argue that small islands, such as Kastellorizo just off the Turkish coast, could not create maritime jurisdictions beyond their territorial areas.
“All parties are in essence aware that islands cannot have a cut-off effect on the coastal projection of Turkey, the country with the longest continental coast line in Eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said.
The Turkish foreign ministry called countries out for taking unilateral steps in the field of energy, while saying a recent Turkey-Libya deal on maritime borders was meant for the two countries “not to allow any fait accomplis” in the area.
“Maximalist and uncompromising Greek and Greek Cypriot claims lie behind this understanding, whereas for example, Kastellorizo, a small island immediately across the Turkish mainland is supposed to generate a maritime jurisdiction area of four thousand times larger than its own surface. This understanding caused Egypt to lose an area of 40,000 square kilometers,” Ankara said.
Athens issues ultimatum to Libyan ambassador
In the meantime, Greek Foreign Ambassador Nikos Dendias has called on the Libyan ambassador in Athens to present the details of two Turkey-Libya agreements last week, one on maritime borders and another on military cooperation.
Dendias warned that if the Libyan diplomat failed to present the agreements by Friday, he would be persona non grata and would be deported.
According to CNA, the Greek minister also pointed out that throughout history Turkey has been going after islands in the Aegean, not only Kastellorizo, adding that Greece maintained that Turkey’s position had no merit.
"There are dozens of decisions by jurisdictional organs that maintain the precise opposite to Turkey," Dendias told Skai TV, adding that Turkey was hiding behind the fact that it has not signed the Law of the Sea treaty and invoking "things that are baseless."