President Erdogan tells European Council President Charles Michel the provocative words and steps of European politicians on Turkey-Greece row will not serve for the solution.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asks EU institutions and member countries to behave responsibly and remain just, impartial and objective on all regional issues, notably the eastern Mediterranean.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asks EU institutions and member countries to behave responsibly and remain just, impartial and objective on all regional issues, notably the eastern Mediterranean. (Reuters)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told European Council President Charles Michel the EU's stance towards the eastern Mediterranean would be a test of its sincerity, calling on it to take an impartial stance in Turkey's row with Greece.

Provocative comments and steps by European politicians on regional matters would not help achieve a solution, Erdogan was cited as saying by his office.

"President Erdogan said the attitude shown by the EU in the eastern Mediterranean will be a test of sincerity from the perspective of international law and regional peace," the statement said.

"President Erdogan called on EU institutions and member countries to behave responsibly and remain just, impartial and objective on all regional issues, notably the eastern Mediterranean," it added.

READ MORE: Turkey: Greek lies on east Med talks prove dialogue not a priority

Upcoming EU summit

Michel had said on Friday that European Union leaders will decide on a "carrot and stick" approach to Turkey when they meet on September 24-25, proposing a conference to defuse tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

The escalating conflict is set to top the agenda at the EU Council meeting, with some member states pressing for sanctions against Turkey.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece have been locked in a dispute over hydrocarbon exploration in the sea's disputed waters and the extent of their continental shelves.

Turkey last month deployed its exploration vessel, Orus Reis, in waters between Greece and Cyprus island, to which Athens reacted by staging naval exercises.

Erdogan on Saturday raised the stakes and warned Greece: "They will either understand the language of politics and diplomacy or on the field through bitter experiences."

The European Union's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell has mooted sanctions against Ankara at the upcoming meeting but so far France, which sent frigates and fighter jets to the region in support of Greece, has been unable to persuade other EU nations to join its hardline response.

READ MORE: A broken front: why Europe isn't united in the eastern Mediterranean

'Mediterranean Storm'

As the tension ran high, Turkey's armed forces on Sunday began annual exercises called "Mediterranean Storm" in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

"The security priorities of our country and the TRNC are indispensable," Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter.

The Turkish Defence Ministry also tweeted that the exercises, which are due to last until Thursday, continued "successfully".

Cyprus is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run south, an EU member state, and the Turkish Cypriot north.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Greece and Turkey had agreed to start technical talks to avoid accidental clashes in the region which Athens has denied later.

READ MORE: Greece denies deal on NATO-brokered talks with Turkey on east Mediterranean

Source: TRTWorld and agencies