EU foreign ministers held urgent talks on high military tensions over offshore drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey's MTA Oruc Reis seismic vessel, which is escorted by the Turkish navy, is seen on the offshores of the Eastern Mediterranean on August 10, 2020.
Turkey's MTA Oruc Reis seismic vessel, which is escorted by the Turkish navy, is seen on the offshores of the Eastern Mediterranean on August 10, 2020. (AA)

Dialogue and negotiation are key in addressing issues of delimitation of maritime boundaries and exploitation of resources, EU foreign ministers said during a meeting on Friday. 

Officials discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean after tensions rose when Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

“Three words reflect the outcome of the discussion: solidarity, de-escalation, and dialogue,” a statement said following the video conference meeting.

It reaffirmed the bloc’s solidarity with Greece and the GCA, and underlined “the serious deterioration in the relationship with Turkey is having far-reaching strategic consequences for the entire EU, well beyond the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The statement claimed that Turkey’s recent activities mount tension, and “immediate de-escalation by Turkey was considered crucial.”

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that the bloc is in solidarity with Greece and GCA.

As the EU foreign ministers meeting was held via video conference, it was considered unofficial with no joint decision at the end of the meeting.

However, ministers may instruct their working groups to prepare the results of the meeting.

Dialogue for solution

Earlier this week, Turkey resumed its Mediterranean mission after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

The agreement came only a day after Ankara said it would postpone its oil and gas exploration as a goodwill gesture.

But after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal "null and void," Turkey authorised the Oruc Reis seismic research vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country's continental shelf.

The ship will continue the two-week mission until August 23 along with the Cengiz Han and Ataman vessels.

READ MORE: Turkey’s ‘Blue Homeland’: striking a balance in the Eastern Mediterranean

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the only solution to the dispute was through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey's rights.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

Athens seeks support

Greece, a NATO and EU member, is on high alert over Ankara's mission where frigates from Turkey and Greece were involved in a mild collision in the region.

Greece "should not attempt to provoke Oruc Reis like it did two days ago or it will receive a response," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, adding the European Union should not give it "unconditional support."

Erdogan said the naval Kemal Reis had fended off an attack by Greek vessels and also warned of retaliation.

Read More: Key aspects of Turkey’s Mediterranean mission, explained

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias earlier in the day in Vienna, Austria during his ongoing tour of Europe.

Pompeo on his tweet said the meeting was on the "urgent need to reduce Eastern Mediterranean tensions."

Following Pompeo, Dendias meeting France's President Emmanuel Macron had a phone call with his US counterpart Donald Trump over tensions in the region.

During the phone call both leaders expressed their concerns over rising tensions in Eastern Mediterranean and agreed that Greece and Turkey must commit to dialogue to resolve differences, a White House statement said.

Macron has previously said that he will boost France's naval forces in the region.

Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Thursday that the US would like to see France and Turkey "continue to work together and find solutions that do not involve the necessity of having warships, or having aircraft deployed in a less than cooperative environment,” Hoffman said.

Read More: France's East Med steps threatens NATO's unity

Source: TRTWorld and agencies