European leaders on March 22 strongly condemned Turkey’s “illegal actions” toward Greece and Cyprus in a blistering denunciation that could upend an EU-Turkish summit in Bulgaria on March 26, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The statement by the 28 European Union member states meeting in Brussels comes after Turkey’s arrest of two Greek soldiers, and its promise to prevent the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government from exploring for oil and gas.
“The European Council strongly condemns Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and underlines its full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece,” the statement said.
The statement urged Turkey to normalize relations with Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops entered and stayed in the northern third of the island in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup.
A standoff over exploiting energy resources in the region risks further complicating stalled efforts to reunify Cyprus after UN-backed talks collapsed last year.
In recent weeks Turkish warships blocked an Italian drillship from exploring for gas in the east Mediterranean island’s waters.
The leaders also expressed “grave concern over the continued detention of EU citizens in Turkey, including two Greek soldiers” and called for these issues to be resolved through dialogue with the EU member states.