Erdogan ordered to back down in eastern Med

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters/File)
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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.”


Iraq PM in talks with UK's Boris Johnson on security, political reforms

Updated 22 October 2020

Iraq PM in talks with UK's Boris Johnson on security, political reforms

  • Johnson expressed his strong support for the Iraq government
  • Both leaders discussed issues of bilateral interest, and discussed recent political and security issues

LONDON: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson discussed security challenges in the Middle East on Thursday.
A-Khadimi met the UK leader at Downing Street as part of an a European tour. 
Johnson expressed his strong support for the Iraq government as they discussed economic reforms, the coronavirus pandemic and the continued effort to defeat Daesh.
The Twitter account of Al-Kadhimi's office said both leaders discussed issues of bilateral interest, and discussed recent political and security issues in Iraq and the region. 
They also agreed on more cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
“It was agreed to increase more cooperation in the field of combating terrorism, as well as in the political and economic sectors, in light of the economic challenges that Iraq faces,” his office said.
Prior to his UK trip, Al-Kadhimi met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
During these visits, Al-Kadhimi discussed Iraq’s main challenges such as the fight against terrorism and foreign interference in its affairs.
The Iraqi leader, who became prime minister in May, has a particularly affinity with the UK, having lived there for many years after fleeing Iraq in the 1980s.