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Merkel calls for de-escalation in Eastern Mediterranean

The German chancellor on Friday called for de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean and a closer dialogue between the EU and Turkey to address the current problems.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels after a two-day summit of EU leaders, Angela Merkel expressed regret over Turkey’s decision to send its seismic vessel Oruc Reis to conduct research in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Now this has once again increased tensions, instead of bringing them down. I find it regrettable, and think that it was not necessary,” she said, adding that the leaders discussed this topic during today’s meeting.

Despite strong calls by EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration to impose sanctions on Ankara, the German chancellor repeated her call for a solution to the current problems through dialogue and negotiations.

“We should continue our work on the positive aspects of our agenda,” she said, referring to the EU summit conclusions of Oct. 2, which called for closer cooperation with Turkey on issues of common interest.

“We can pursue this path together, because achieving progress in EU-Turkey relations is in the interest of both sides,” she stressed.

Merkel’s months-long mediation efforts between Turkey and Greece paved the way for new round of exploratory talks between the two countries, but planned talks were postponed following recent tensions in the region.

Ankara slammed the Greek government for continuing its provocations over the last couple of weeks, most recently by declaring military exercises in the Aegean Sea to coincide with Turkey's Oct. 29 National Day celebrations.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region, and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara has sent several drill ships in the past weeks to explore for energy on its continental shelf, 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.

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