Turkish President takes a step back on the islands’ Continental Shelf “They do have an effect but not as big as the mainland”
Donald Trump’s telephone interference in the Greek-Turkish relations is of particular interest, as the Turkish Presidency’s announcement shows that the US President has reportedly sought to resolve the Greek-Turkish disputes without favoring any country, nor has he spoken of any illegal activity by Ankara.
“Trump has stressed the need for the Turkey-Greece dispute stemming from the Mediterranean to be resolved”, the Turkish presidency statement noted.
The US president called Erdogan on the occasion of the earthquake in Elazig which left 41 people dead.
As the White House deputy spokesman Judd Deere tweeted out, the US and Turkish Presidents “discussed the need to stop any foreign involvement but also to cease fire in Libya”.
In the same tweet, the White House spokesman posted that the two leaders also discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, with President Trump highlighting the need for Greece and Turkey to settle their differences in the region.
“Apart from the earthquake, with him (with Trump) we talked about the Libyan issue, as well as about Idlib. Therefore, we were given the opportunity to elaborate on what we can do on these issues”, Erdogan told reporters at a news conference during his tour in Senegal.
This clarification practically shows that the US is calling for a dialogue between Athens and Ankara to take place, in order for “all issues” to be set on the table. However, one major problem that is at the root of many Greek-Turkish differences remains Cyprus, and perhaps this is why reference was made to the Eastern Mediterranean. Another issue that has arisen lately is the Turkey-Libya Memorandum which ignores the continental shelf to which the Greek islands are entitled.
Erdogan’s change of attitude on the islands and the Continental Shelf
Yet on this issue Erdogan seems to be taking a step back from his earlier statements and leaving some room for discussion on the Continental Shelf issue. Speaking to Turkish journalists, the Turkish president stressed “As for the continental shelf, the coasts must face each other. Now they come and tell us (Greece) that Crete is a continental region! We will buy it (accept) if they tell us it is a “(small) continental area” “but how can we buy it when they claim it is a “mainland?”
In the past, Erdogan has stated that islands like Crete have no impact on the Continental Shelf, yet now he admits that they do have an effect but not as big as the mainland, leaving room for discussion. Moreover, in a statement last Friday the Turkish Foreign Ministry spoke of “new channels of communication on the Eastern Mediterranean”
Erdogan, however, said in a statement that Greece had nothing to do with Libya. “We share an old friend in Greece from the old mayors, to whom I said “If you want a message from me about Greece, tell them not to get mixed in our own stuff. We have no concern with dealing with Greece. At the NATO Summit I told Mitsotakis “We better leave each other alone. You will face no harm from us”. On a question regarding Libya, “You have no place in Libya. Spot Greece on the map, and then spot Libya”.
The Turkish President argued that Turkey’s memorandum with the Tripoli government was legal and some countries were trying to overthrow it by backing Haftar. “In the Eastern Mediterranean we are the country with the largest coastline. The line created is in line with the memorandum we signed. To the north there is Turkey and to south Libya. After signing it we will not bother asking anyone “Tell us what you think”. We have reached an agreement with Sarraj and that is all there is to it. Sarraj is recognized by the UN, he is the state. Meanwhile, the other one is a coup d’etat instigator. Some people are trying to change things through Haftar, but we won’t allow it”, he added.
“Haftar himself is a legionary. On the other hand, we have Sarraj who is recognized by the UN Security Council. We wish that the rivalry between these two sides would cease to be through armed battle and turn into a political field, and that the people of Libya were allowed to determine their future”. /ibna