US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greek Nikos Dendias stressed today the necessity of resolving maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean region peacefully through international law, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed his country’s constants regarding tension in the region.
Washington today welcomed Athens’s willingness to cooperate with the countries of the region to solve the disputes in the eastern Mediterranean. This came during a two-day visit by the US Secretary to Greece, where he held talks with his Greek counterpart with the aim of encouraging the reduction of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and launching a dialogue between Athens and Ankara.
A joint statement by Pompeo and Dendias said that the two competing parties ’dispute over potentially resource-rich areas under the Mediterranean should be resolved” peacefully and in accordance with international law. “
Tensions between Athens and Ankara have been exacerbated in the past few weeks due to disputes over sovereignty and maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, which are believed to be rich in gas and oil.
The tension was embodied in the escalation of mutual accusations between the two countries, their simultaneous military maneuvers, and Turkey’s sending of a ship to search for energy resources in disputed areas with Greece, as well as the occurrence of a light collision between Turkish and Greek warships.
Calm down after escalating
However, the language of escalation between the two sides receded last week. The two countries – members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – announced the resumption of preliminary talks soon regarding their conflicting demands regarding sovereignty over the maritime areas in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, which have been suspended since 2016.
Before the start of Pompeo’s visit, a senior American official said that it is necessary to “stop the escalation in the eastern Mediterranean,” stressing the need to “reduce the risks of accidents,” and “refrain from taking any unilateral action that fuels tension,” calling on Greece and Turkey “to reach an agreement.” Regarding the peaceful demarcation of the maritime borders and in accordance with international law.
Last Friday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “give diplomacy a chance.”
On the other hand, Erdogan stressed – in a speech today during a seminar by the Universities of Istanbul and Marmara on “International Maritime Law and the Eastern Mediterranean” – the need to “make the Mediterranean a lake of peace instead of polluting it with new rivalries between countries.”
The Turkish President added – in a tweet on his Twitter account – that his country’s policy in the Eastern Mediterranean is based on two principles: The first is to “defend the rights and sovereignty of Turkey on our continental shelf by defining the areas of maritime jurisdiction in a fair and equitable manner in accordance with international law,” while the second basis is to “guarantee the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots in hydrocarbon resources, as equal partners on the island.”
Erdogan stressed that Turkey does not have ambitions in the rights of anyone, but it will not allow anyone to digest its rights, nor will it succumb to the language of threat and pressure. “
It is noteworthy that relations between Greece and Turkey have been marred by many tensions for many years due to many files, on top of which are the maritime borders, the migrant file, and the Cyprus crisis.