Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, issued the following statement at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Switzerland.
He stated that Turkey has accepted Switzerland’s offer to mediate between Greece and Turkey in principle and said: “We were not in favour of any tension with Greece. If Greece harasses us, there will be retaliation”.
Given the European Union’s attitude, Çavuşoğlu stated that the EU should support diplomacy and common sense.
Greece and the United States (US) also came together in Vienna. Nikos Dendias, the Foreign Minister of Greece, stated that he hoped all parties would act in accordance with international law and there would be no disputes.
When Turkey announced in July that it was planning to send a survey ship to waters off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, the initial row was brought to an end by Germany, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union.
But now that that ship has set sail – accompanied by five Turkish naval vessels – the dispute has come to a head again and the two Nato allies are engaged in a war of words.
Greece has vowed to defend its sovereignty, and the EU, of which Greece is a member, has appealed for dialogue. France has joined Greece in a naval exercise in the area.
Tensions have been high between the two neighboring NATO members over claims to natural gas reserves.
Dubbed the ‘Cyprus gas dispute’, it was brought to the fore when EU member Cyprus made attempts to explore for gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, despite strong objections from Turkey.
In July, Macron had pushed for EU sanctions against Ankara for what he called “violations” of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty over their territorial waters. Relations between France and Turkey have also been strained by the Libyan conflict.