The leaders of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit.
In a joint statement, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Turkey to "end its aggressive actions in the eastern Mediterranean."
They also renewed their invitation to Turkey to become a partner in reaping the potential benefits of offshore gas deposits.
The summit came amid high tension between neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders, after Ankara sent the Oruç Reis research vessel, escorted by warships, to disputed waters between the Greek islands, southern Turkey and Cyprus. Turkey has also sent drilling ships where Greek Cyprus says it has exclusive economic rights.
All three leaders condemned Turkey's numerous “provocations” that they said have sharply escalated tensions and are threatening regional peace.
“The timing of this trilateral meeting coincides with additional dangers that are unfortunately created by Turkey’s leadership which dreams up imperial practices and aggressive acts from Syria, to Libya, from Somalia to Cyprus, from the Aegean to the Caucusus,” Mitsotakis said.US accuses Turkey of deliberately hindering Greece talks by renewed seismic survey push
The three leaders also condemned Turkey's actions in Varosha, an abandoned city also known as Maraş, which was recently partially opened to the public by Turkish Cypriot authorities.
But both Mitsotakis and Anastasiades extended an olive branch to Turkey, offering a place within the three-way partnership if Ankara drops its belligerence.
“I’ll say it again that in our [partnership] Turkey could also take part, no one excluded it from the start,” Mitsotakis said. “But more often than not, what marginalizes it are its own actions unfortunately.”
Mitsotakis calls on EU to stop arms sales to Turkey
Greece and Cyprus have signed maritime border agreements with Egypt. They dismiss a similar deal that Ankara signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) as “legally invalid.”
Mitsotakis said Turkey has transported “Syrian mercenaries” to Libya, proliferating “terror cells” in northern Africa that threaten Europe’s security.
The Greek leader repeated a call for his country’s European Union partners to stop arms sales to Turkey and to take note of Ankara’s “many violations” of its customs union with the 27-member bloc.
“A third country that’s a candidate for European Union membership cannot be exempted from customs duties, taste the benefits of the common market and at the same time threaten the European Union’s eastern borders and cause upheaval in all of the Mediterranean,” Mitsotakis said.Turkey extends exploration in disputed eastern Mediterranean waters to Oct 27
Anastasiades praised Egypt as an “important EU partner” and an “agent of regional stability” because of its efforts to "fight terrorism" and stem migrant flows.
El-Sisi said although his country hosts five million refugees, it has never leveraged that to secure political or economic gains from the EU. Turkey is receiving substantial financial aid from Brussels to care for its own large refugee population, which it has repeatedly threatened to allow to enter Europe through Greece.
Turkey rejects 'baseless' allegations
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Oct. 22 rejected the “baseless” allegations, saying that the statements issued by the three leaders target Turkey.
"The only real cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean is possible with an inclusive stance that includes Turkish Cypriots and all countries sharing the coast," the ministry said.
"We will continue to protect our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination," it added.Greece calls for suspension of EU-Turkey customs union