Turkey and France remain close friends despite disagreements and unfavorable circumstances, Turkey's ambassador to France said Thursday.
"We need to accept that we have had better days in the past. However, the process we are going through today is cyclical. There are, of course, serious disagreements today between our two nations, but it would be an exaggeration to speak of an irrevocable point between Turkey and France," Ismail Hakkı Musa told the France 24 TV channel during a live broadcast.
"No matter the conditions, the Turkish and French nations are close friends," Musa said.
Noting that dialogue is still possible between the two countries, he added that it was natural to have different ideas.
Musa said France wanted to stand with Greece for its own reasons, but "it would be better not to stand with a side that cannot get along well in the region, and an opposite attitude will only contribute to a rise of tensions."
Relations between Turkey and France have deteriorated over the Eastern Mediterranean, but the two allies disagree on other major issues including the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
Ankara and Paris previously traded barbs after French officials in 2018 met with the leaders of the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian branch, the YPG.
The two countries are also on opposing sides in Libya, where Ankara has backed the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli against a 2019 offensive by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar. France is suspected of supporting Haftar, but officially insists it is neutral in the conflict.
Turkish officials have decried France's interference in the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, given it has no territory in the region. Commentators have argued that President Emmanuel Macron is trying to distract from his political failures at home.
Macron last week said Europeans must be "clear and firm with, not Turkey as a nation and people, but with the government of President (Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan, which has taken unacceptable actions."
In response, Erdoğan warned his French counterpart Macron "not to mess" with Turkey, as tensions between the two NATO allies escalate.
Reiterating that in 2004, Turkey submitted a notice of its continental shelf delimitation to the U.N. Security Council, of which France is a permanent member, Musa said Turkey's Oruç Reis seismic research vessel carries out activities within that area.
He also reminded that the Greek Cypriot administration signed agreements with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel between 2003 and 2018 and Greece signed an agreement with Egypt that violates Turkey's continental shelf.
Musa said those countries also started drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2011 and added that Turkey's warnings and calls for dialogue that such activities cannot be carried out in an area where the delimitation is not determined were left unattended.
"In the end, Turkey had no choice but to initiate its own drilling activities in 2018. The deal reached with Libya should also be seen from this angle, as we cannot sit back and watch when activities violating our sovereignty rights in our continental shelf are being conducted," he said.
Greece has disputed Turkey's current energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
Turkey – the country with the longest Eastern Mediterranean coastline – has sent out drillships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.
A dialogue toward sharing these resources fairly would be a win-win for all sides, say Turkish officials.
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