Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

Mike Pompeo 'deeply concerned' over Turkey's actions in Eastern Mediterranean

The US Secretary of State flew into Cyprus to discuss the dispute with the Cypriot president

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed consternation at Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean in a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

"We remain deeply concerned about Turkey’s ongoing operations searching for natural resources in areas over which Greece and Cyprus assert jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Mr Pompeo said after the meeting.

The brief meeting in Cyprus's capital city Nicosia comes hours after Mr Pompeo was in Qatar for Afghan-Taliban peace talks so he is well accustomed to mediating internecine conflicts.

Tensions flared in August after Turkey resumed gas exploration in an area where its claims are contested by Cyprus, and began naval exercises and energy surveys in waters where Turkey and Greece both assert exclusive economic rights. The resumption has prompted the EU to sanction Turkey.

Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, have since deployed their navies to the area, and France has started expanding its military presence there in reaction to Turkey’s steps.

Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara
Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara

The French intervention prompted Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday to warn France "not to mess" with his country.

“Any disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean should be resolved through dialogue and not by gunboat diplomacy,” Mr Anastasiades said.

He also called on Turkey to stop its aggressive provocative actions in order to restart Cyprus’s reunification talks.

“Unlawful activities, despite repeated calls on Ankara to refrain from provocative actions, should be immediately terminated,” he added.

Updated: September 13, 2020 10:18 AM

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