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Erdogan Says EU Should Get Rid of Its 'Strategic Blindness'

Erdogan Says EU Should Get Rid of Its 'Strategic Blindness'

Monday, 7 December, 2020 - 12:45
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called for the EU to rid itself of its “strategic blindness” and not be used as a tool of Greece and Cyprus.

He also said that it was not possible for Turkey, which had the longest coastline in the region, to watch developments from the sidelines.

Erdogan continued by saying that Turkey will not accept plans and maps that aim to confine the country to the coasts off Antalya.

He also said that Turkey is in favor of peace, cooperation and justice in the Eastern Mediterranean rather than tensions.

“We believe we can solve the problems of the eastern Mediterranean by not excluding each other but by bringing all the actors together around the same table,” he stressed.

Erdogan's remarks come days ahead of an European Union summit that could impose sanctions on Turkey.

EU leaders are meeting Thursday in Brussels and will address Turkish missions to explore gas reserves in waters claimed by EU members Greece and Cyprus.

At a summit in October, European leaders warned Turkey to withdraw its energy research ships or face punitive measures.

Late last month, the Turkish seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis returned to port, as it had done before October’s EU meeting. However, another research ship, the Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, remains off Cyprus’ southwest coast.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendiaso last week described Turkish efforts to de-escalate the crisis as “unconvincing” and demanded action to rein in Ankara, The Associated Press reported.

Tensions between NATO allies Turkey and Greece escalated over the summer with a military build-up after Turkey sent the Oruc Reis, escorted by navy frigates, into disputed waters.

The move prompted Greece to also send its warships, and both countries conducted military exercises to assert their claims.

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