Pompeo says US ‘deeply concerned’ over Turkey actions in east Med

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives for a press conference with the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (File/AP/Petros Karadjias)
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Updated 12 September 2020

Pompeo says US ‘deeply concerned’ over Turkey actions in east Med

  • Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have risen over claims and counter claims pitting Turkey against Greece and Cyprus to maritime areas thought to be rich in natural gas
  • “Countries in the region need to resolve disagreements including on security and energy resource and maritime issues diplomatically and peacefully,” Pompeo said

NICOSIA: The United States remains “deeply concerned” about Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday, urging a diplomatic end to a simmering crisis over offshore natural resources.
Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have risen over claims and counter claims pitting Turkey against Greece and Cyprus to maritime areas thought to be rich in natural gas.
“Countries in the region need to resolve disagreements including on security and energy resource and maritime issues diplomatically and peacefully,” Pompeo said in a fleeting trip to Cyprus on Saturday night, where he met with President Nicos Anastasiades.
“Increased military tensions help no one but adversaries who would like to see division in transatlantic unity,” he said.
Turkey has sent two survey vessels to separate areas in the region, drawing strong protests from both Cyprus and Greece, which say Ankara is operating on their respective continental shelves.
Turkey says it has a legitimate claim over the area. There is no agreement between Greece and Turkey delimiting their continental shelves, while Turkey disputes any claims by Cyprus, with which it has no diplomatic relations.
“We remain deeply concerned by Turkey’s ongoing operations ... the Republic of Cyprus has the right to exploit its natural resources including the right to hydrocarbons found ... in its exclusive economic zone,” Pompeo said.
The east Mediterranean island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Its internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government represents the whole island in the European Union, though its authority is effectively contained to the southern part. North Cyprus is an unrecognized Turkish Cypriot state recognized only by Ankara.
Earlier this month the United States said it would lift a 33-year embargo on “non lethal defense articles” applied on Cyprus in 1987 and deepen its security cooperation with Nicosia, prompting an angry response from Turkey.
Pompeo said he also raised with Anastasiades concerns over Russian money laundering — something Cyprus repeatedly denies — as well as frequent port calls by the Russian navy to the island.
“We know that all the Russian military vessels that stop in Cypriot ports are not conducting humanitarian missions in Syria and we ask Cyprus and the president to consider our concerns,” Pompeo said. 


Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

Updated 35 min 37 sec ago

Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

  • ‘If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war’

MANILA: The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster — and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader’s bloody campaign.
The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police since he took office in mid-2016, but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger.
“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.
“If you get killed, it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” said the president known for his coarse and boastful rhetoric. “If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”
He said, however, that drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, alleging that those may have been committed by gangs.
Duterte has made a crackdown on drugs a centerpiece of his presidency. At the height of the campaign — which has often targeted petty dealers and users along with a handful of the biggest druglords — images of suspects sprawled dead and bloodied in the streets were frequently broadcast in TV news reports and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Tens of thousands of arrests in the initial years of the crackdown worsened congestion in what were already among the world’s most overcrowded jails.
UN human rights experts and Western governments led by the United States have raised alarm over the killings, enraging Duterte, who once told former US President Barack Obama to “go to hell.”
There have been widespread suspicions that police engage in extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that they and Duterte deny. In 2018, a court convicted three police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are killed.
At least two complaints for crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign are being examined by an ICC prosecutor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full-scale investigation.
When the complaints were made, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the world tribunal two years ago in a move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.
Duterte reiterated his defiance of the court’s probe Monday by asking, when did “drugs become humanity?”
Instead, he framed the drug menace as a national security threat, as he has in the past, comparing it to the communist insurgency that the government has tried to quell for more than a half-century.
“If this is allowed to go on and on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.
“When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.
Police have reported at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.