"Our rights must be granted. There are now many rights that EU member states must grant Turkey," Turkish President Erdogan said on Friday.

Oruc Reis seismic research vessel, one of the 5-6 research ships in the fully equipped and multi-purpose in the world, is seen as it is ready for a new seismic research activity in the Eastern Mediterranean in Antalya, Turkey on July 22, 2020.
Oruc Reis seismic research vessel, one of the 5-6 research ships in the fully equipped and multi-purpose in the world, is seen as it is ready for a new seismic research activity in the Eastern Mediterranean in Antalya, Turkey on July 22, 2020. (AA)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "reasonable countries" in the European Union had thwarted efforts against Turkey at a summit this week and the next meeting of EU leaders in March would not yield results that hurt Ankara.

EU leaders agreed on a declaration early Friday morning, to prepare limited sanctions on Turkish individuals and companies over an energy exploration dispute with Greece and Cyprus, postponing any harsher steps until March as countries sparred over how to handle Ankara.

"Our rights must be granted. There are now many rights that EU member states must grant Turkey," Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers. 

"Reasonable countries in the EU thwarted this game by showing a positive stance," he added, referring to Greek, French and Cypriot demands to sanction Turkey.

Foreign Affairs

Turkey's Foreign Ministry  on Friday also dismissed the declaration, calling it "biased and unlawful".  

Turkey's Foreign Ministry in a statement said, "We reject the biased and unlawful attitude toward Northern Cyprus, Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and regional issues in particular, which we know that the majority of the EU does not adopt, but had to be put into December 10 EU Summit Conclusions due to solidarism and veto pressure."  

The declaration condemned the opening of part of the city of Maras, also known in Greek as Varosha, and argued that UN Security Council resolutions should be respected. 

The ministry further stated that the EU through its decision "once again ignored Turkish Cypriot people and their will. It is a disgrace for EU that Greece pushes migrants back to the Aegean Sea and Frontex is an accomplice."

Sanctions

EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday for two days of discussions on the EU budget and Covid-19 as well as transatlantic ties and relations with Turkey. 

The summit also signaled that the EU may increase pressure on Ankara in the coming weeks, by including additional individuals from Turkey's energy sector to a sanctions regime, which was created in November 2019. 

The leaders instructed relevant European bodies to prepare additional listings in light of recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  

Currently only two executives of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation are subject to these sanctions, which consist of assets freeze and a travel ban to the EU. 

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. 

Ankara has sent several drill ships in recent months to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. 

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations. 

READ MORE: Erdogan: Turkey sees itself 'nowhere else but in Europe'

The EU noted Turkey’s withdrawal of the Oruc Reis research vessel and insisted on sustained de-escalation to follow for the early resumption and smooth continuation of direct exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey.

“The European Council reaffirms the EU’s strategic interest in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. The offer of a positive EU-Turkey agenda remains on the table, provided Turkey shows readiness to promote a genuine partnership with the union and its member states and to resolve differences through dialogue and in accordance with international law,” it added.

Highlighting the importance of keeping channels of communication between the EU and Turkey open, it said the EU will continue to provide financial assistance to Syrians in Turkey.

Turkey currently hosts 4 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.

READ MORE: The EU has failed to live up to the 2016 agreement with Turkey on refugees

EU invites council to adopt additional listings

The EU invited the council to adopt additional listings based on its decision on November 11, 2019 concerning restrictive measures in view of Turkey’s “unauthorised drilling activities” in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It also invited EU High Representative Josep Borrell and the commission to submit a report on the state of play concerning EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations and on instruments and options on how to proceed.

The declaration condemned the opening of part of the city of Maras, also known in Greek as Varosha, and argued that UN Security Council resolutions should be respected.

It also asked Borrell to take forward the proposal of a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The EU will seek to coordinate on matters relating to Turkey and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean with the United States,” it added.

READ MORE: Turkey expects no EU sanctions over eastern Mediterranean row

Source: AA