Turkey calls on EU to be 'honest' in dispute with members

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Turkish Foreign Ministry

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, and Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representativeand Vice-Presidentof the European Commission, greet each other by using their elbows before their talks, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 6, 2020. Cavusoglu and Borrell have discussed Turkey-EU relations, regional issues, Libya and Syria. (Cem Ozdel/Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP, Pool)

ANKARA – The Turkish foreign minister on Monday called on the European Union to be an “honest broker” in disputes between Ankara and EU member states France, Greece and Cyprus.

Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Turkey would be forced to “reciprocate” against any decisions the bloc takes against the country.

In a joint news conference with visiting EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, Cavusoglu also renewed a call for France to apologize for its depiction of a standoff between Turkish and French ships in the Mediterranean Sea. France suspended its involvement in a NATO naval operation over the incident.

Borrell arrived in Turkey for talks at a time when tensions between Europe and Turkey are running high over a slew of issues, including Ankara’s disputes with Greece and Cyprus over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean region. The EU might take up punitive measures against Turkey at an upcoming meeting.

“We want to work with the EU,” Cavusoglu said, but added: “If the EU takes additional decisions against Turkey, we will be forced to reciprocate. The situation will become more tense, and this will serve no one.”

Cavusoglu said: “Our expectation is for the EU not to be a party to the problem but to be a part of the solution. If it approaches the issues as an honest broker rather than in solidarity (with EU) members in the eastern Mediterranean or on the issue of Cyprus, then it will contribute to a solution.”

He was referring to the dispute over drilling for oil and gas in waters off Cyprus. Turkey dispatched warship-escorted vessels to drill for gas in an area where Cyprus insists it has exclusive rights; the Turkish government has said it's acting to protect its interests in the area's natural resources and those of Turkish Cypriots.

The Greek Cypriot government of the ethnically split island has slammed Turkey for encroaching in its waters and economic rights. The EU has rallied to the defense of its member states, Greece and Cyprus.