Erdogan ordered to back down in eastern Med

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters/File)
Short Url
Updated 17 September 2020

Erdogan ordered to back down in eastern Med

  • EU chiefs turn fire on Turkey in standoff with Greece and Cyprus

JEDDAH: European chiefs warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday to stop bullying Turkey’s neighbors amid simmering tension over maritime and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
The warnings came as Ankara said its Yavuz drillship would continue its search for oil and gas off Cyprus until Oct. 12, despite international demands to withdraw. Ankara had already angered the EU by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in Greek territorial waters.
The Yavuz will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships, and Turkey said all other vessels were “strongly advised not to enter” the area.
“Turkey is and will always be an important neighbor, but while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
“Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighborhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbors.”
Cyprus is pressing the rest of the EU to impose fresh sanctions on Ankara over the drilling, and European Council chief Charles Michel vowed on Wednesday that the bloc would defend the island’s rights. He is in Cyprus before an emergency meeting of EU leaders next week that will address Turkish actions in the eastern Mediterranean, with sanctions a possibility.
“The European Union stands in solidarity with Cyprus as it faces a grave situation,” Michel said. “I believe we must be very firm when it comes to defending the rights of all member states, including Cyprus.”
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said Michel’s visit came at an “extremely worrisome” time. “Turkey continues to violate our maritime zones with illegal drilling.”
He said the bloc should show its readiness to take action to protect its members’ rights.
“Respect for the sovereignty of all member states should remain a rule that no one can ignore or show contempt for,” Anastasiades said. “As long as there are illegal actions against member states, the EU’s response should be immediate.”
Cyprus was ready to engage in talks with Turkey to resolve their differences, but it would not respond to intimidation, Anastasiades said. “Nicosia has been always ready for a dialogue, but for that to be effective it needs to be clearly defined based on international law, without blackmail or threats.”


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

NUMBER

Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.