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EU Commission head stresses dialogue in E. Mediterranean

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that Turkey's return of the ship to port created 'much-needed space for dialogue' over Eastern Mediterranean.
16.09.2020 - 15:14

The European Commission head on Wednesday praised a Turkish exploratory ship returning to port, saying it would help lower tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“De-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in our mutual interest,” Ursula von der Leyen said in her annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, calling the return of the Oruç Reis ship a positive step in this direction.”


The ship’s return was “necessary to create the much-needed space for dialogue,” von der Leyen added, voicing solidarity with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus and pledging to protect “their legitimate sovereignty rights.”

Turkey on Monday returned the Oruç Reis, an energy exploration ship, to port for restocking and maintenance work.

Greece, Southern Cyprus, and other EU members have tried to block Turkey’s energy exploration, claiming it is searching in Greek waters, using a maximalist view of Athens’ maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – says this view is illegal and makes no sense, and has urged negotiations with no preconditions to lay out fair sharing of the region’s resources.

“Turkey is and will always be an important neighbor,” said von der Leyen, acknowledging how Turkey hosts millions of Syrian refugees and faces many challenges in the region.