Turkish Cyprus on Tuesday praised talks between Turkey and the European Union on recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) described the decision for the resumption of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey as an “extremely positive and gratifying development” amid regional tensions.
“As someone who has long advocated that the problems should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation, that the natural gas issue should not be a cause of tension and the Eastern Mediterranean should be transformed into a cooperation basin, I hope that this development will have beneficial results for the people of both countries and the peace in the region,” Mustafa Akinci said in a statement.
He described as “a positive step” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call for an international conference on the Eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci said Turkish Cypriots are ready to take part in such a platform.
-'Historical turning point'
Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar also praised Erdogan’s call for a conference.
“In our opinion, if the facts are seen in such a meeting and the importance of the understanding of cooperation is seen and the issues are approached, it may be a historical turning point,” Tatar said. “So we are ready to participate.”
He underlined that Erdogan's insistence to start talks with Greece is a “peaceful call.”
Top leaders from Turkey, Germany and the European Union held a video meeting Tuesday that focused on the tensions.
In addition to Erdogan, the trilateral meeting included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Charles Michel, president of the European Council.
Erdogan noted his appreciation for Berlin’s mediation efforts and stressed the importance of holding a regional conference with the participation of all parties, including Turkish Cypriots, said Turkey’s Communications Directorate.
During his virtual address Tuesday to the 75th UN General Assembly, Erdogan said: “We would like to propose the convening of a regional conference, including Turkish Cypriots, in which the rights and interests of all the countries of the region are considered.”
A EU spokesperson said earlier Tuesday that Turkey and Greece are preparing for a resumption of talks amid disputes in the region.
Tensions have recently escalated regarding the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece, with France’s support, has disputed Turkey's energy exploration, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
Turkey, the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean, has sent drill ships with a military escort to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.
To reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure fair sharing of the region’s resources.
Reporting by Muhammet Ikbal Arslan
Writing by Handan Kazanci