Stating that the European Union (EU) should act as an honest mediator on the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean, İbrahim Kalın said: “The Union’s interest should not be reduced to the benefit of a single member.”Kalın spoke at an event organised by European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR) entitled ‘Turkey’s Role in the Eastern Mediterranean: Threats of Conflict and Prospects for Dialogue’.
Mentioning that Turkey is the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, Kalın said: “As a NATO member, of course, what happens in the Eastern Mediterranean is of concern to us, not only bilaterally for instance with Greece or Cyprus or Lebanon, but as a whole.”
Speaking on the history of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece to give a better insight into the tension between the two countries, Kalın said: “Exploratory talks began in 2002, and we had 60 rounds of talks up to 2016. The goal of those talks was to identify issues between Turkey and Greece, not only on maritime limits but also a number of other issues in the Aegean islands airspace, together with other issues.”Kalın also added that last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had two meetings in New York and London, where they agreed to start the talks immediately.
Underlining that the negotiations held under the mediation of Germany mainly focused on the determination of sea borders and hydrocarbon energy activities, Kalın criticised those who accuse Turkey of “acting unilaterally and aggressively” or “assertively,” describing such comments as “unfair.”
“However, to be fair. It was not Turkey that began giving licenses in either the Eastern Mediterranean or around Cyprus,” Kalın said.
It was in fact first the Greek Cypriots – after they were accepted into the EU as a full member in 2004 and after they rejected the Annan Plan – that began giving licenses to a number of companies around the islands in the areas, which were disputed, and which completely denied the rights of the Turkish Cypriots,” he added.
Reminding that the Greek Cypriots reject completely the rights of Turkish Cypriots and since 2010 made agreements with Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt and then Greece to begin to allow energy companies and noted that this permit caused the violation of Turkey’s rights.
Speaking regarding the role of the EU on this issue, Kalın pointed out that President Erdoğan had many meetings with the EU term President, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as with the leaders of other EU member states.
Indicating that the purpose behind these talks was for the EU to act as an honest broker, Kalın noted that the problem between Turkey and Greece should be solved on the basis of an equality, fair, and transparent process.”
Source: TRNC Public Information Office