Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called Greece’s expulsion of the Libyan envoy an “international scandal” and said Greece would pay the price for its actions internationally.
In a TV interview, he also said Turkey and Libya could carry out joint exploration operations in the eastern Mediterranean after the two sides signed a deal on maritime boundaries.
He also said Turkey would procure a new drilling ship to continue activities in the eastern Mediterranean, adding that Ankara could expand operations to the Black Sea or international waters.
The comments came after EU foreign ministers on Monday said the maritime delimitation agreement between Turkey and Libya raised major concern, as it expressed solidarity towards Greece and Cyprus.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said the matter was discussed by the bloc’s foreign ministers “and it was clear from our discussion that this document raises major concerns.”
“We expressed our solidarity and our support to Greece and Cyprus and will continue doing that,” Borrell said.
Ankara’s move has raised tensions in the region, especially with Greece, which said the deal had no legal standing.
Greece said any such accord would be geographically absurd because it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya. Along with Cyprus and Greece, Egypt has also condemned the move.
Erdogan in his interview also said Ankara was protecting the rights of Turkey, Libya and the ‘TRNC’ while “the Greek Cypriot administration”, Greece, Israel and Egypt were trying to exert sovereignty over the eastern Mediterranean. Nevertheless, he said, he was ready for a dialogue with Greece but wanted to be clear that there would be no pipeline in the region without Turkey’s approval. “We don’t want to make enemies,” Erdogan said.
Following the deal’s announcement last month, the Cyprus government said it had sought legal recourse against Turkey at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague over Ankara’s claims to large swathes of Cyprus’ EEZ and continental shelf.
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Monday condemned the deal between Turkey and Libya “allegedly attempting to delimit maritime zones between them,” stressing that the memorandum, inter alia, violates international law and has no legal basis at all.
The Minister made this statement during the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
Christodoulides stressed that “this development, coupled with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on military cooperation, raises concerns also in other states in the wider region, while undermining the efforts of the international community to create suitable conditions to allow for a Summit dedicated to finding a political solution to the Libyan problem. ”
He added that Turkey’s actions followed what Ankara has been doing illegally for months in Republic of Cyprus’ maritime zone.
In response to Turkey’s activities, the EU has suspended talks on an air transport agreement and called on the European Investment Bank to review its lending to the country.
They also backed a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to Turkey for next year. The ministers warned that additional “targeted measures” were being worked on to penalize Turkey, which started negotiations to join the EU in 2005.