ADDS MORE REMARKS BY TURKISH, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS; OTHER EDITS; REVISED DECK
By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - The EU needs to act as an "honest mediator" in Turkish-Greek negotiations over the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Ankara with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey always expects the EU to act strategically and with good sense.
The EU "whether right or wrong, supports member states in the name of solidarity," but it is wrong to differentiate between an EU member country and a country in its accession to the bloc, like Turkey, he said.
"We have to go through principles, we have to go through the truths, we need to evaluate them within the framework of principles and around common values that unite Europe. When this happens, we will move away from the double standards and other policies [in Europe] that we often complain about," he said.
Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey gave diplomacy a chance, but the same is not true of the Greek side, with Athens recently boycotting NATO meetings aimed at defusing tensions.
"We wanted these processes to be evaluated well, but we saw the provocative steps of Greece and the Greek Cypriot side during these processes. We saw their negative attitude. In such a process, the EU could have brought Greece and the Greek Cypriot side to the table, [but] unfortunately it didn’t happen," he said.
Turkey's top diplomat underlined that the "provocative" attitude of Greece has continued especially since Oct. 20, adding that Athens issued 11 Navtex maritime alerts and 12 Notam air alerts since that time.
A Navtex is a maritime communications system that allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in an area as well as other information.
"It also took provocative steps to violate the status of the demilitarized [Aegean] islands," Cavusoglu said.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent drill ships in recent months to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.
- Common fight against COVID-19
Cavusoglu pointed out that Europe and the world are going through difficult times due to the coronavirus pandemic, and stressed the need for more cooperation and solidarity.
"If we want to take our relationships and cooperation further, it is useful to focus on the positive atmosphere in these difficult days," he said.
He also said that Turkey and Hungary meet each other's needs without hesitation and show an exemplary solidarity, especially during the pandemic.
Relations between the two countries are based on a "win-win" strategy, he said.
- EU accession
Cavusoglu said Hungary is a friendly country that helps improve Turkey-EU relations, as well as Turkey's EU membership accession process.
"Hungary is a country that clearly shows its opposition to injustices. That's why our approaches coincide. We, too, have never welcomed the double standards and hypocrisy applied to Hungary.
"The important thing is that we’re all on one continent. We live on the European continent. We need to boost cooperation in order to turn this continent into a continent with increased stability and economic development," he added.
He also stressed the importance of a "positive atmosphere" for mutual cooperation with the EU.
"We want to enhance our relations with the EU," he said, adding that relations have had their ups and downs originating from both Ankara and Brussels, and stressed that effort is needed to overcome problems with dialogue.
- ‘EU security in Turkey’s hands’
Szijjarto, for his part, hailed Turkey's role in hosting millions of refugees.
Had it not been for Turkey, thousands of migrants would have ended up at the EU’s borders, he said.
"Whether they like it or not, the EU's security is significantly in the hands of Turkey," he said.
Saying that international cooperation should contribute to "making everyone happy at home," Szijjarto added that international support is needed to prevent new waves of migration and help everyone return to their own home.
Turkey currently hosts 4 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.
Szijjarto also urged that disputes between Turkey and the EU "be left behind," adding that the bloc should "act with mutual respect in line with international laws."
"We should avoid double standards and hypocrisy,” he said, adding that his country works to ensure dialogue between Turkey and other EU member states.