The leaders of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece on Wednesday renewed an invitation to Turkey to become a partner in reaping the potential benefits of offshore gas deposits, while urging Ankara to end its “aggressive” actions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Talks between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis included cooperation in fields ranging from energy to combatting terrorism.
All three condemned Turkey’s numerous “provocations” that they said have sharply escalated tensions and are threatening regional peace.
“The timing of this trilateral meeting coincides with additional dangers that are unfortunately created by Turkey’s leadership which dreams up imperial practices and aggressive acts from Syria, to Libya, from Somalia to Cyprus, from the Aegean to the Caucusus,” Mitsotakis said.
But both Mitsotakis and Anastasiades extended an olive branch to Turkey, offering a place within the three-way partnership if Ankara drops its belligerence.
“I’ll say it again that in our (partnership) Turkey could also take part, no one excluded it from the start,” Mitsotakis said. “But more often than not, what marginalizes it are its own actions unfortunately.”
Earlier, in a joint declaration, the three leaders condemned Turkey’s actions in Varosha and its illegal drilling and other operations inside the island’s exclusive economic zone and within Greece’s continental shelf.
They also expressed their grave concern over the recent escalation within the maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean and the increased militarisation of the region “that threatens the wider stability, peace, and security.”
“We strongly condemned Turkey’s illegal drilling and seismic operations in Cyprus’ EEZ/continental shelf, in marine areas already delimited in accordance with international law, including between the Republic of Cyprus and the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the declaration said.
“We also condemned the continuous violations of Greek national airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea and Turkey’s illegal activities in areas falling within Greece’s continental shelf.”
The three countries stressed that delimitation of the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones should be addressed through dialogue and negotiations with full respect for international law.
“We call on Turkey to accept the invitation by Cyprus to engage in negotiations, in good faith and in full respect of international law, with the objective to reach an agreement for the maritime delimitation between their relevant coasts, or to submit the issue to the International Court of Justice.”
The one-day regional summit between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt in Cyprus came amid high tension between neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders, after Ankara sent a research vessel, escorted by warships, to disputed waters between the Greek islands, southern Turkey and Cyprus.
Turkey has also sent drilling ships where Cyprus says it has exclusive economic rights.