Azerbaijan fully supports Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, which are based on international law, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Greece claimed that the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean will determine the fate of relations between Turkey and the European Union.
In a statement, Abdullayeva said Azerbaijan hopes ongoing tensions in the area are resolved soon.
“We resolutely support all steps taken by brother Turkey in line with international law toward peace and stability,” the statement read.
Abdulleyeva continued by criticizing recent anti-Turkey statements by Armenia, saying that the country needs to be condemned for exploiting the fragile situation in the Mediterranean in its political favor.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Saturday saying that it is “carefully watching” the latest developments in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.
The ministry also said it reiterates its “unconditional support and solidarity” for Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration as it urged Turkey to “de-escalate tensions, respect international law” and suspend all of its activities off Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration’s so-called exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
Meanwhile, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias paid a visit to the Greek Cypriot administration and met with his counterpart Nikos Christodoulides and the Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades.
The three officials decided on the next step to take before the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting to be held in Berlin on Aug. 27-28.
Claiming that Turkey’s activities in the region are directed against the EU, Dendias called on the bloc to respond to counter it.
He said Turkey is ignoring international and maritime law as well as European values.
Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and France have demanded that the EU impose sanctions on Turkey due to its activities in the region.
On Friday, EU foreign ministers expressed “full solidarity” with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, urging an “immediate de-escalation” as Greek and Turkish ships shadowed each other.
Turkey last week resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.
The agreement came days 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 authorized the Oruç Reis seismic research vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country’s continental shelf.
The ship will continue its two-week mission until Aug. 23 along with the vessels Cengiz Han and Ataman.
That led Greece to place its armed forces on high alert and send warships to the spot, demanding the withdrawal of Turkish vessels. The Greek and Turkish navies have been engaged in a game of brinkmanship in waters between the islands of Crete and Cyprus and Turkey.
Turkey has accused Greece of trying to exclude it from the benefits of oil and gas finds in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. It argues that Greek islands should not be included in calculating maritime zones of economic interest – a position Greece says contradicts international law.
Greece has around 6,000 islands and smaller islets in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, more than 200 of them inhabited. On the other hand, Turkey has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
The search for oil and gas has long been a source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
Turkey has also said that energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has issued Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) a license for oil and gas exploration and drilling, and the Greek Cypriot administration.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the only solution to the dispute was through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said his country would step up energy exploration and will not “compromise” on its rights.
Egypt approves maritime deal
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Parliament on Tuesday approved the maritime deal setting the country’s Mediterranean Sea boundary with Greece and demarcating an EEZ for oil and gas drilling rights, the state-run news agency reported.
The Egypt-Greece deal has established “partial demarcation of the sea boundaries between the two countries, and … the remaining demarcation would be achieved through consultations,” the MENA news agency reported.
Egypt’s Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al called the deal “very significant” and said it is “in line with international law.”
He said the agreement with Greece comes amid tensions in the East Mediterranean region and “attempted provocations by some countries.”