“Turkey is and will always be an important neighbor. But while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing,” said EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen during her first "State of the Union" speech on Wednesday.

“Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighborhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbors,” Von der Leyen remarked.

Stating that EU Member States, Cyprus and Greece, can always count on Europe's full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights, she added: “De-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in our mutual interest. The return of exploratory vessels to Turkish ports in the past few days is a positive step in this direction. This is necessary to create the much needed space for dialogue. Refraining from unilateral actions and resuming talks in genuine good faith is the only path forward.  The only path to stability and lasting solutions.”

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources as well as the status of islands in the region.

Tension between two countries escalated when Turkey declared a Navtex last month. (ILKHA)

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