Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo discussed reducing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the current situation in Libya at a meeting Sunday in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo.
A written statement by the U.S. Department of State said Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo discussed issues of common concern, including reducing tensions between regional actors in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is carrying out energy exploration.
Çavuşoğlu said following the meeting that they also evaluated the situation in Libya, agreeing to continue consultations with experts.
Tensions have been mounting in the region after Greece's controversial new maritime pact with Egypt. Greek defense sources announced joint military drills Thursday in the Eastern Mediterranean along with France, which has sought to hem in Turkey's maritime territory.
The drills follow Turkey's resumption of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean on Aug. 10, just after the signing of the Greek-Egyptian maritime pact, which Turkey called illegal. Ankara had temporarily paused the exploration by the MTA Oruç Reis seismic research vessel to allow for diplomatic talks, to no avail.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the natural resources in the area.
Turkish drilling procedures in the Eastern Mediterranean fall under two categories: the licensed areas issued by the TRNC to Turkey and the licensed areas that are issued by Turkey to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) – Turkey's national oil company.
Response to Biden's remarks
Following the meeting, Çavuşoğlu also responded to recent comments by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. In a newly surfaced video, the current front-runner in the U.S. presidential race said he would seek a regime change in Turkey and expressed his willingness to work with "opposition leadership" in the country to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey's 2023 elections.
Çavuşoğlu said Biden's remarks crossed the line, stating that only Turkey can decide who its leaders will be, through democratic and transparent elections.
"Nobody from America or any other country can decide that," Çavuşoğlu said.
"As the Turkish nation, we radically reject such impositions," he said. "Therefore, it is an ignorant statement that does not recognize the Turkish nation, either."
Çavuşoğlu also denounced Biden's use of the word "Kurds" to refer to YPG/PKK terrorists.
"Kurds will work in every government post; they will continue to contribute to life in Turkey in many ways, as they have always done. We all say 'no' to terror," he said.
Çavuşoğlu also slammed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for its recent agreement with Israel to normalize diplomatic relations and its destructive activities in war-ravaged Yemen.
He said the plight of Palestinians is an issue for the entire Muslim world, not just for Arabs, accusing Abu Dhabi of "backstabbing" the Palestinians by making a deal with Israel that supports its illegal occupation of Palestine.
"Emiratis see whose puppet their government is," he said.
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