German and French leaders on Thursday called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and vowed to support diplomatic efforts to resolve maritime boundary disputes between Greece and Turkey.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her call on Greece and Turkey to resume direct talks to resolve their long-standing disputes and said Berlin and Paris would enhance their cooperation to facilitate a diplomatic solution.
"We need stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, not tensions. We are aware of the critical situation there. I am confident that if Germany and France join their forces, hopefully, we can find a good solution, which can make cooperation possible," Merkel told a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, following their meeting at Macron's presidential mansion of Fort de Bregancon on the Mediterranean coast.
Merkel also underlined that it was important to maintain unity among EU member states, and demonstrate solidarity with EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration.
Meanwhile, Macron renewed his criticism of Turkey, but also expressed readiness to promote a constructive dialogue among all states in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Turkey, to de-escalate tensions and resolve current disputes.
He also argued that recent diplomatic initiatives of Berlin and Paris on the Eastern Mediterranean were not contradictory but complementary, and said they were pursuing the same goals, such as supporting the sovereign rights of EU member states and protecting stability in the region.
Merkel's diplomatic efforts for mediation between Turkey and Greece was severely undermined earlier this month after Macron announced that France will send its warships to the region in support of EU member Greece.
Macron's move has further escalated tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
But on Thursday, during the press conference with Merkel, the French president underlined the importance of Merkel's diplomatic initiative and said Paris will support Berlin's efforts.
Turkey last week resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.
The agreement came days after Ankara said it would postpone its oil and gas exploration as a goodwill gesture.
But after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal "null and void," Turkey authorized the Oruç Reis seismic research vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country's continental shelf.
The ship will continue its two-week mission until Aug. 23 along with the vessels Cengiz Han and Ataman.
That led Greece to place its armed forces on high alert and send warships to the spot, demanding the withdrawal of Turkish vessels. The Greek and Turkish navies have been engaged in a game of brinkmanship in waters between the islands of Crete and Cyprus and Turkey.
Turkey has accused Greece of trying to exclude it from the benefits of oil and gas finds in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. It argues that Greek islands should not be included in calculating maritime zones of economic interest – a position Greece says contradicts international law.
Greece has around 6,000 islands and smaller islets in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, more than 200 of them inhabited. On the other hand, Turkey has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
The search for oil and gas has long been a source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
Turkey has also said that energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has issued Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) a license for oil and gas exploration and drilling, and the Greek Cypriot administration.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the only solution to the dispute was through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey's rights.
Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and France have demanded that the EU impose sanctions on Turkey due to its activities in the region.
Last week, EU foreign ministers expressed "full solidarity" with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, urging an "immediate de-escalation" as Greek and Turkish ships shadowed each other.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.