Duvar English / Anadolu Agency

Turkish Foreign Ministry has severely criticized the joint declaration by Greece, Egypt, France, the Greek Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) accusing Ankara of undertaking “illegal” activities in Eastern Mediterranean.

“The joint declaration of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Greece, GCA [Greek Cyprus], France and the UAE on the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya, is a case in point of the hypocrisy of a group of countries who are seeking regional chaos and instability through the policies they pursue and seeing no harm in sacrificing the democratic aspirations of the peoples to the callous aggression of putchist dictators, and which have fallen into a delirium, as their agendas are being disrupted by Turkey,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy in a statement on May 11.

The foreign ministers of Greece, Egypt, France, the UAE and Greek Cyprus held a videoconference meeting on May 11.

A joint declaration released after the meeting criticized Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. The declaration said that the parties “denounced the ongoing Turkish illegal activities in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and its territorial waters, as they represent a clear violation of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

“The Ministers urged Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of all States in their maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said.

Turkish Foreign Ministry blasted Greece and Greek Cyprus for “relying on irrelevant non-regional actors, can only be the legacy of a mentality of mandate and colonialism, instead of engaging in dialogue with Turkey and TRNC [the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] respectively on the Eastern Mediterranean.”

“The distortion of the steps taken by Turkey in order to protect its legitimate interests based on international law, through unfair and unlawful pretexts, is unacceptable under any circumstances,” Aksoy said.

“We call on all these countries to act with common sense, in accordance with international law and practices. Peace and stability in our region can only be achieved through genuine and realistic dialogue and cooperation rather than attempting to create axis of malice,” Aksoy added.

Turkey is at loggerheads with Greek Cyprus over potentially lucrative gas reserves in the southeastern Mediterranean and has been sending drilling ships to explore the area. Greek Cyprus says the waters are part of its exclusive economic zone, while Ankara says it is protecting the claims of Turkish-Cypriots in the northern part of the divided island.

Turkey is also set for a clash with Greece over a separate maritime accord with Libya, which Athens says is illegal. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he “will do whatever it takes” to protect the country’s sovereignty if Turkey begins drilling in waters Greece claims as its own. A similar dispute in 1996 sparked a military escalation that brought the two countries to the brink of war.