Von der Leyen welcomes return of Turkish exploratory vessels to Turkish ports

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday welcomed the recent return of Turkish exploratory vessels to Turkish ports in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In her first State of the Union address to the European Parliament, von der Leyen said the de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in the mutual interest of the European Union (EU) and Turkey, and necessary to create space for dialogue.

“Refraining from unilateral actions and resuming talks in genuine good faith is the only path to stability and lasting solutions,” von der Leyen said.

The chief of the EU’s executive arm assured that Cyprus and Greece, both EU member states, can always count on “the full solidarity of the EU” on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights.

She said Turkey is an important neighbour of the EU. While acknowledging that Turkey is located in a “troubled neighbourhood” and is hosting millions of refugees, for which it gets “considerable funding” from the EU, von der Leyen insisted that none of this could serve as “justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.”

Turkish seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis returned to Turkey last weekend after weeks of research in a disputed area near the Greek island of Meis, also known as Kastellorizo, where Greece claims lies within its continental shelf.