Turkey accuses five nations of forming 'alliance of evil'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, listens during a teleconference with his cabinet in Istanbul, Monday, May 11, 2020. Erdogan announced a new four-day curfew to stem infections, that includes the weekend and a public holiday on May 19. The country has opted to impose short weekend curfews, instead of full lockdowns, fearing their possible negative effects on the already troubled economy.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, listens during a teleconference with his cabinet in Istanbul, Monday, May 11, 2020. Erdogan announced a new four-day curfew to stem infections, that includes the weekend and a public holiday on May 19. The country has opted to impose short weekend curfews, instead of full lockdowns, fearing their possible negative effects on the already troubled economy.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool) (Turkish Presidency)

ANKARA – Turkey on Tuesday accused Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates of seeking to form an “alliance of evil” after these countries issued a joint declaration denouncing Ankara’s policies in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya.

In a strongly-worded statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the five countries were pursuing “regional chaos and instability” in the eastern Mediterranean and sacrificing Libyans’ “hope for democracy for the reckless aggression of dictators.”

The foreign ministers of the five countries held a teleconference on Monday to discuss the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey has been drilling for potential hydrocarbon deposits in an offshore area where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights, as well as the situation in Libya.

Last year, Turkey signed a contested maritime border delineation deal as well as a military cooperation agreement with the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli.

Turkey says the deal grants its economic rights to a large swath of the east Mediterranean Sea and prevents any energy-related projects from moving forward without Ankara’s consent. Greece and Cyprus have protested the deal, saying it contravenes international law and infringes on their own rights in the area.

The five nations denounced what they said was Turkey’s sixth attempt in less than a year to “illegally conduct drilling operations in Cyprus’ maritime zones.”

Turkey doesn’t recognize ethnically divided Cyprus as a state and claims much of its exclusive economic zone as its own. It has dispatched warship-escorted vessels off Cyprus to drill for gas, insisting that it’s acting to protect its interests and those of Turkish Cypriots to the area’s natural resources.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after coup by supporters of union with Greece. A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state is recognized only by Turkey.