Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Turkey has “imperialist illusions” in the eastern Mediterranean, during the summit that he gathered Wednesday with the leaders of Cyprus and Egypt.
Mitsotakis said that Turkey is using “extremist rhetoric” and carrying out unilateral actions ignoring the international system and calls for dialogue by the European Union, Russia and the United States. The Greek leader added that Turkey has “imperialist illusions accompanied by aggressive actions from Syria to Libya, from Somalia to Cyprus and from the Aegean Sea to the Caucasus.”
Mitsotakis’ words came during a tripartite summit in Nicosia with Presidents of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades and Egyptian Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. In a joint statement, the three leaders condemned Turkey’s behavior in Varosha, which violates UN Security Council resolutions on the former Cyprus coastal resort. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Ankara recognizes, has reopened Varosha beach, from which the Greek Cypriots fled during Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus and its occupation of the northern third of the Mediterranean island in 1974. Cyprus, Egypt and Greece also condemned the Turkish “unilateral provocations” related to exploration for energy resources in the country. The disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean, in addition to the role they play in war-torn Libya and Syria.
Mitsotakis said that Turkey’s actions involve “drawing random maps or signing invalid notes”, as is the case in Libya.
The three countries hold summits regularly within the framework of their close cooperation in the energy field, in addition to their efforts to establish a regional energy center alongside Israel to supply gas to Europe. “Our meeting today is taking place at a very difficult time for the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean,” Anastasiades told reporters. He added, “Turkey is constantly escalating tensions and undermining regional stability (…) and violating the sovereign rights of Cyprus and Greece.” The situation was further exacerbated in November 2019 when Turkey and the United Nations-recognized Libyan government signed an agreement on maritime borders. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt condemned the agreement, describing it as “illegal” because it violated the economic rights of the three countries in the gas-rich Mediterranean. This prompted Egypt and Greece to sign an agreement to demarcate the maritime borders between them in August.
On Wednesday, Sisi hailed the agreement with Greece as an example of what can be achieved in light of “respect for the law and international institutions.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the agreement between Egypt and Greece, saying it was worthless, and pledged to maintain his agreement with the Tripoli government and to continue exploring for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean. The dispute over gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean prompted Greece and Turkey, both NATO allies, to hold parallel military exercises in August. At a summit held this month, the European Union threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if it did not stop what the bloc described as illegal activities to explore energy in the waters that Cyprus and Greece consider to be part of their economic zones.