NATO Head Wants ‘Positive Approach’ to ‘Western’ Turkey Despite Aggression Against Greece, Cyprus

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister after their meeting at the Foreign Ministry building in Ankara, on October 05, 2020. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg has called on countries to resolve issues through dialogue as the European Union explores sanctions against Turkey over its activity in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Stoltenberg noted that Turkey, which is a member of the NATO alliance, has an “important role” and claimed the Muslim-majority country was “part of the Western family.”

“NATO is a platform where also we can discuss an open way when there are differences, disagreements between allies as we see, for instance, in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said, Greek newspaper I Kathimerini reports.

“At the same time, I think we all have to look for positive approaches, ways to address the differences,” Stoltenberg added.

The European Union agreed on sanctions against Turkish individuals who planned or took part in drilling off the coast of Cyprus, an EU member-state under partial Turkish occupation since the 1970s, but will delay any further measures until March of 2021.

At least two officials and other individuals will be included in the sanctions and could see asset freezes.

“Turkey has engaged in unilateral actions and provocations and escalated its rhetoric against the EU,” the draft statement said.

Turkey brushed off the sanctions, which some diplomats have called symbolic, with Defence Minister Hulusi Akar stating the country would continue seismic surveys and drilling in Cypriot waters and blamed Greece for the rise in tensions in the region.

The EU’s move comes after months of tensions between Greece and Turkey over the activity of Turkish vessels such as the Oruc Reis, which have sought to conduct natural resource research in areas Greece and Cyprus have claimed are part of their exclusive economic zones (EEC).

The activity led to the Greek armed forces being put on alert in July and tensions remained high as the French government also became involved in the issue in August.

The French government under President Emmanuel Macron has not only backed sanctions against Erdogan’s government but has also reportedly called for the European Union to dissolve its customs union with the country as well.

The internationally unrecognised Turkish client regime in Cyprus’s occupied north has also been moving to colonise more territory on the island in recent months, while the Turkish government has been pushing illegal migrants seeded with agents provocateurs to the Greek land border.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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