‘Turkey cannot be excluded from Eastern Mediterranean’
Turkey, Greece have no choice but to have friendly relations, say former Greek diplomat
Greece’s efforts to exclude Turkey from the Eastern Mediterranean threaten regional peace and security, a former senior Greek diplomat said on Saturday.
Speaking to Gnomi newspaper, published in Greece’s northeastern port city of Alexandroupolis, Panagiotis Ioakimidis, a former advisor to the Greek Foreign Ministry, discussed the Turkish-Greek relations and regional affairs.
Ioakimidis said that Greece’s efforts to make alliances with some countries in the Eastern Mediterranean does not offer solutions to issues in the region.
“It should be accepted that Turkey is a Mediterranean country, which has to be taken into consideration within the framework of regional developments”, he said.
Referring to the recently restarted explanatory talks between Turkey and Greece, Ioakimidis noted that the talks do not have to be limited to the issue of Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and that many other issues can be incorporated.
“However, for the demarcation of EEZ and continental shelves, countries should first reach an agreement on width of territorial waters,” he noted.
Arguing that Turkey and Greece, as neighboring countries, have no choice but to have friendly relations, Ioakimidis stressed improvement in the bilateral relations would significantly contribute to both countries’ prosperity.
“Border regions such as Thrace and Eastern Aegean Islands will particularly benefit from such thing. There can be cooperation and joint projects in the fields of tourism, transportation and education,” he said.
About the Cyprus issue, Ioakimidis said the Greek Cypriot administration should embrace “Guterres Framework” and particularly its principle of political equality.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara last year sent several drill ships to explore for energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.
The Cyprus issue remains unresolved despite a series of efforts in recent years, including a failed 2017 UN initiative with the participation of the guarantor countries.
* Writing by Ahmet Gencturk in Ankara
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