Towards a de-escalation between Turkey and the Old Continent? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was ready, Tuesday, January 12, 2021, to “put back on track” relations between Turkey and the European Union, crossed by strong tensions on many issues, including the exploration of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. “We are ready to put our relations back on track,” he said during a speech to ambassadors of EU countries stationed in Ankara. And the strong man from Turkey continued: “We hope that our European friends will show the same will. ”
In December 2020, the leaders of the European Union, meeting in summit in Brussels, decided to sanction the “illegal and aggressive” actions of Turkey in the Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus. The EU summit adopted individual sanctions supposed to target those involved in Turkey’s exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean. These gas exploration work carried out by Turkey in disputed maritime areas with Greece and Cyprus had been at the center of tensions for months. The crisis between Athens and Ankara intensified with the deployment in August by Turkey of the seismic research vessel Oruç Reis in the disputed areas.
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Calls for dialogue
For several weeks now, Turkish officials have been increasing calls for dialogue with Europeans to settle matters of tension, which, in addition to the Greek-Turkish maritime dispute, relate in particular to the role of Turkey in the conflicts in Syria, Libya and more. recently in Nagorno-Karabakh. “Making 2021 a successful year for EU-Turkey relations is within our grasp. We can achieve this by working with a long-term vision, far from prejudices and apprehensions, ”Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
The Head of State asked European diplomats, whom he received in the presidential complex in Ankara, for their “support” to “open a new page in relations between Turkey and the European Union”. His statements come the day after the announcement of the resumption, on January 25 in Istanbul, of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece with a view to settling their dispute over hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. “We believe that these discussions with Greece can usher in a new era,” said Erdogan.