Washington/Athens/Ankara: The US and European nations have severely reprimanded Turkey for sending research ship Oruc Reis and three other ships to the Mediterranean Sea once again. The US lashed out at Turkey and condemned its decision to activate its operation in waters contested by Greece. Germany is mediating the Greece-Turkey dispute and has expressed displeasure at Turkish actions which it stated were impeding ongoing attempts at deescalating tensions. Further, France reminded Turkey that the EU had kept the option for sanctioning the country open still. Greece too has taken a firm stance on the matter and said that negotiations would not be possible unless Turkey pulled back its ships from the region. The bold stand of the US and EU nations will possibly corner Turkey.
Turkey sent out the Orus Reis and three other vessels in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday. The country has said the three sips are to remain operational in the region till October 22. Also, the Turkish Energy Ministry justified the move by saying that Turkey would continue the exploration of gas and protect its rights. The minister went on to warn that Turkey would even start drilling if gas were found in the region. After that, Turkish President Recep Erdogan began to issue threats to Greece. Erdogan said that ‘The Turkish ships have entered the Mediterranean Sea to execute its responsibilities and any opposition will be met with a tit-for-tat reply. Greece and Cyprus have not complied with what they promised during the discussions’.
The US and EU have expressed severe displeasure at Turkey’s aggressiveness. US Department of State Spokesperson Morgan Ortegas rebuked Turkey and said, ‘Turkey’s decision to reinitiate its operations in the Mediterranean Sea is denounceable. The move has sharply escalated tensions in the region. With its operations, Turkey appears to have deliberately complicated its negotiations with Greece, a NATO member which is cooperating with the US. Tensions in the Mediterranean cannot be diffused by the use of pressure, threats and military action. Turkey must therefore stop carrying out subversive activities and resume negotiations with Greece immediately. Unilateral actions will not encourage trust, and neither will it help in reaching a solution’.
As he criticised Turkey’s unilateral activities, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed open resentment saying such actions are hampering the attempts for de-escalation. Maas sent out a warning stating that Germany had expected a resolution to the Greece-Turkey dispute in the next few days but, if that does not happen, the EU would have to consider other options with regard to the matter. France had assumed an assertive stance on the issue as well. The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that Turkey must remain mindful that the option of imposing sanctions against the country was still open with the EU. At this time, he even accused Turkey of continuously engaging in subversive activities. On the sidelines of the forceful statements issued by Germany and France, Greece has candidly stated that it would not go ahead with negotiations unless the Turkish ships were withdrawn from the region.