The U.S. dismissed a contentious map that’s exacerbated competing Turkish and Greek claims to maritime territory, saying it has no legal significance.
The so-called Seville map indicates that Greece and Cyprus control far larger territorial waters than Turkey in the gas-rich Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Turkey has accused Greece of using that map, drawn up by Spain’s University of Seville on commission from the European Union in the early 2000s, to pursue “maximalist claims” on maritime jurisdiction rights.
Late Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said on Twitter that the “U.S. does not consider the Seville Map to have any legal significance.” The Greek government hasn’t responded to the embassy tweet.
The U.S. move eased strains between Washington and Ankara that have deepened recently over Trump administration moves to militarily support Cyprus, which, like Greece, is at odds with Turkey over maritime boundaries and rights to any energy resources discovered in contested waters. It also bolstered Turkey as it faces possible sanctions by the European Union for its energy exploration off the coasts of bloc members Cyprus and Greece.
Washington urged Greece and Turkey to resume dialogue as EU leaders prepare to meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss how to deal with Turkish exploration activities. Cyprus has refused to sign off on bloc sanctions against Belarus over its contested election unless all other member states also agree to expand an EU blacklist against Turkey over its natural-gas drilling activities in waters around the divided island.
“Maritime boundaries are for the states concerned to resolve by agreement on the basis of international law,” the U.S. Embassy said in a Twitter post. “The United States strongly supports good faith dialogue and negotiation and encourages Greece and Turkey to resume exploratory talks as soon as possible.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said that Turkey removed a survey ship from the Mediterranean as a sign of goodwill for dialogue with Greece without preconditions, is seeking to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel before on Tuesday, according to his office.
— With assistance by Firat Kozok