French President Emmanuel Macron is adding fuel to the fire in the Eastern Mediterranean and making it harder to solve problems, said the Turkish defense minister on Friday.

In an exclusive interview with Britain's Channel 4 News, Hulusi Akar said the French president is trying to take on the role of Napoleon who died two centuries ago but Macron is not strong enough for this.

Akar said Macron is trying to have some roles in the Eastern Mediterranean to obscure his problems in France. 

"He is trying to play a role in the Eastern Mediterranean by coming from thousands of kilometres away," which is not right, Akar said.

He stressed that Turkey defends its rights and interests, reminding that it has approximately 2,000 kilometers (around 1,242 miles) of coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

NATO

On NATO's meditation efforts, Akar said while Greece is reluctant and slowing down the solution of the Eastern Mediterranean issue with some preconditions, Turkey supports holding these meetings.

Drawing attention to Greece's activities in the Aegean Sea, Akar said Greece has armed some islands, especially Meis, or Kastellorizo, in the Aegean and region in violation of international law.

"This is a violation of international law and agreements between countries. This is a threat to Turkey. This has a negative impact on good neighborly relations," he said.

"Our Greek neighbors selfishly speak about their rights. They have a tendency to ignore our rights in every condition. This is not acceptable," Akar said.

Turkey only expects respect to its rights from all parties, he noted.

EU

In regard to the EU attitude to the issue, he said the EU does not contribute to the solution and has become a part of the deadlock.

He said the EU does not have any authority to set or change rules or draw borders in the Eastern Mediterranean.

On the sanction calls of EU members to Turkey, he said it is a "threatening language" that they frequently speak of sanctions in various ways.

“This attitude of the EU only raises the tension,” Akar added.

The EU should understand that everyone should abide by all rules of international law, Akar stressed, adding that the bloc, especially Macron, is extremely partisan and biased on the issue.

Turkey: EU Parliament's decision on E.Med unacceptable

Turkey on Thursday blasted an "unrealistic" resolution by the European Parliament against Turkey on the ongoing dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the advisory decision, which was adopted in the European Parliament's General Assembly solely for the sake of solidarity among the EU members and serving the "selfish" interests of some member countries, is "unacceptable" in many ways.

The European Parliament's biased and unjust attitude, as well as its invalid and one-sided interpretations of maritime law for which it is not authorized, has damaged its reputation, the statement added.

The statement underlined that neither the European Parliament, nor the EU, nor its member states have the authority to determine the borders of third countries.

The adoption of such a "biased decision" despite Turkey's efforts at all levels across all EU institutions is incompatible with goodwill and common sense, it added.

Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday expressing "full solidarity" with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration against Turkey's actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has disputed Turkey's current energy exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, citing that Ankara and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

Dialogue about fairly sharing resources will be a win-win for all sides, say Turkish officials.

 

Exploration activities

On the hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Akar said Turkey is doing technical and scientific works in the region as it has done before within its continental shelf.

"We are doing this in the framework of our own rights. There is no provocation of any kind here," he highlighted.

Akar also said Turkey's work in the region consists of planned, scheduled, open, and transparent use of existing rights.

Tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has disputed Turkey's energy exploration in the region, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey -- the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean -- has sent out drill ships, with military escort, to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

To reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure the fair sharing of the region’s resources.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Greek military delegations have held technical meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss ways to reduce the risk of an incident amid rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey holds naval exercise in Eastern Mediterranean

Turkish forces carried out surface and air defense fire drills in the Eastern Mediterranean on Thursday, the National Defense Ministry has announced.

“Our TCG [Turkish Republic Ship] GEDIZ Frigate successfully performed its surface and air defense fire practice under the activities of operational readiness in [the] Eastern Mediterranean Sea on 17 September 2020,” the ministry said in a Friday tweet.

Tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the region, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill ships, with military escort, to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

In order to reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure the fair sharing of the region’s resources.

Turkey expects EU to be impartial, consistent: Erdogan

The Turkish president and the European Council head spoke over the phone on Thursday, particularly discussing the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish authorities said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Charles Michel that Turkey expects EU organizations and member states to adopt an objective and consistent stance on all regional issues, especially on the Eastern Mediterranean, without being deceived by provocations, said a statement by Turkey’s Directorate of Communications.

Erdogan reiterated that Turkey is open to a solution that protects the rights of all parties with a friendly dialogue and negotiations based on justice.

He also underscored that Turkey will resolutely continue protecting its all rights and interests in everywhere and every time against all initiative that ignores its rights with unilateral steps.

The two leaders also discussed the Turkey-EU relations and other regional development, the statement said.

Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, citing that Ankara and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

Greece has disputed Turkey's current energy exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Dialogue about fairly sharing resources will be a win-win for all sides, say Turkish officials.

Turkey fights for justice as region demands it: President

Critics of Turkish foreign policy should stop accusing Ankara and instead oppose the conditions in the region that make it necessary for Turkey to champion peace and justice, said the nation’s president on Thursday.

"They say, 'Why is Turkey involved in Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia?” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial heads at party headquarters in the capital Ankara.

But, he added, "If Turkey retreats, will Syria enjoy peace and freedom?...

“If Turkey turns its back to what is happening in Libya, will putschists hand over power to the legitimate government?”

Referring to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has tried to block Turkey’s foreign policy goals in the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere, he said: “If Turkey steps back, will France end its political drift caused by its leader and turn to responsible policy?”

"If all of these questions can be answered with a realistic and sincere 'yes,' it would become necessary for us to review the policy we follow," said Erdogan.

Erdogan also demanded that the European Union abandon its double standards against Turkey.

Turkey has given support to Libya’s legitimate government based in the capital Tripoli against the putschist warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose forces left behind mass graves in a recent retreat.

Since 2016 Turkey has also sent troops across its southern border into Syria to eliminate the threat to locals from the terrorist YPG/PKK and prevent them from forming a terrorist corridor next to Turkey.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

'Turkey will not surrender to blackmail, banditry'

Speaking later at another event at Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center, Erdogan reiterated that they will not allow anyone to confine Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, to its coast.

The parties involved know that the language of threats does not work and Turkey will not surrender to blackmail or banditry, he stressed.

"Despite the provocations and childish attitudes of the other side, we have always acted with the dignity of our righteousness and being a great state," he highlighted.

"We defend the legitimate rights of our country and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [TRNC] arising from international law in the Eastern Mediterranean," he added.

Stressing the importance of dialogue and the negotiating table for resolving the Eastern Mediterranean issue, Erdogan said that Turkey has always advocated a solution through dialogue, negotiation, and in line with its neighborhood.

Turkey has sent out drill ships into the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its right to the region’s maritime resources against claims that small Greek islands next to Turkey’s coasts deprive Turkey of almost any maritime jurisdiction in the region, despite no country having a longer Mediterranean coastline.

Critics in the EU, notably France, have opposed these efforts, while ignoring terrorist threats near Turkey, illegal arms shipments into Libya fueling the Haftar insurgency, and Greek expansionist efforts to confine Turkey to its coasts using arguments that defy the law and logic.