Turkey President Erdogan, Angela Merkel discuss escalation of tensions in East Med

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday sopke with German Chancellor over the phone amid mounting tensions in Eastern Mediterranean over exploration of energy reserves.

According to a statement by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate, President Erdogan told Merkel that Turkey believes in solving problems in the Eastern Mediterranean in the framework of international law based on dialogue and equity.

Both the leaders have discussed regional developments and evaluated steps to enhance bilateral relations, the statement further said.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan said he was planning to hold phone conversations with Merkel and President of the European Council Charles Michel ahead of the EU’s extraordinary foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday.

Turkey’s increasingly assertive stance in the eastern Mediterranean is borne from its long-running argument that, as the country with the longest Mediterranean coastline, it needs to be consulted or be a party to any agreement related to exploiting the sea’s natural gas riches.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also held phone conversations with his Hungarian, Lithuanian and Bulgarian counterparts on Thursday, and with EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, foreign ministers of Estonia and Finland on Wednesday after Greece asked for an emergency meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the issue.

Turkey announced Monday its drill ship Oruc Reis would resume energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s decision followed a controversial maritime delimitation deal signed between Greece and Egypt, only a day after Turkey said it would postpone its energy exploration as a goodwill gesture after mediation efforts from Germany.

(With inputs from agency)

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