The statement by the 28 European Union member states meeting in Brussels strongly condemned Turkey’s “illegal actions” toward Greece and Cyprus in a blistering denunciation. This 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. EU calls on Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and to normalize relations with Cyprus. A standoff over exploiting energy resources in the region risks further complicating stalled efforts to reunify Cyprus after U.N.-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. The Greek soldiers were arrested on March 2 for entering a military zone in the northern Turkish province of Edirne and are waiting for their case to be heard. The summit’s denunciation will hang over an EU-Turkey summit in the Bulgaria, aimed at improving strained ties because the EU sees Turkey as a strategic partner in the fight against terrorism.
During a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent