Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared intransigent on his country’s stance in the eastern Mediterranean and tensions with Greece, Cyprus, and the EU, calling on the latter to avoid acting “willfully blind” and serving the two countries.
In a video message at a Turkish university workshop on the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said: “The Eastern Mediterranean has been at the centre of developments in recent years and many countries are watching what is happening. Turkey, the country with the largest coastline in the Mediterranean, cannot follow the developments … from the sidelines. We are closely monitoring what is happening to protect our own interests and the interests of the Turkish Cypriots.”
“We have clarified that we will not accept plans and maps aimed at limiting Antalya (coast of southeastern Turkey). We do not seek to violate anyone’s interests and laws. But we will not yield to blackmail, threats, pirate behaviour, we will not allow plans for imperialist expansion. We want to leave behind what happened in the previous months,” the Turkish president continued.
“We want to continue with mutual respect and dialogue to solve the problems, without excluding anyone from the solutions. We must give space to diplomacy if we want a permanent solution “, he added and then took aim at Greece, Cyprus, and the EU.
“We maintain our composure in matters with Greece and Cyprus after 2003. We also maintain the same compromising attitude today. The European Union must get rid of its strategic blindness as soon as possible and must not allow itself to be used as a “spearhead” in the Eastern Mediterranean by Greek Cypriots and Greece. The Union, in the name of solidarity, must not be unfair to Turkey.”
The EU is scheduled to meet in the week to discuss sanctions against Turkey as a result of its belligerent stance in the region.