Bartolo flies to Turkey with call for ‘dialogue and respect of international laws’

Malta’s Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo met Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu amid rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo met his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Antalya (Photo: DOI)
Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo met his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Antalya (Photo: DOI)

Just days after Malta joined six EU countries urging Turkey to end “unilateral and illegal activities” in the eastern Mediterranean, Evarist Bartolo met Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Bartolo’s official visit to Antalya came two days after Prime Minister Robert Abela participated in a summit for Mediterranean EU states organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

During the summit held in Corsica, Malta insisted on its neutrality and raised the issue of migration from Libya.

READ ALSO: As Macron urges EU restrictions on Turkish influence, Abela says: ‘Malta is neutral’

Malta has cosied up to Turkey after the latter lent military support to Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord. Turkey’s support of the GNA managed to turn the tide against Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, which had besieged Tripoli for almost a year.

Malta sees Turkey as a crucial ally in its efforts to stem migration from Libya.

However, Malta’s position has put it at odds with countries like France, Greece and Cyprus, worried about Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean to claim natural resources in the area.

Only yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Macron “not to mess” with Turkey, as tensions between the NATO allies escalate.

Bartolo was quoted in a government statement calling for all countries in the eastern Mediterranean region to solve their problems with “dialogue and in full respect of international laws”.

He also appealed to all sides to be careful on what they say and do not to escalate an already tense situation.

The Maltese foreign minister said praised a proposal by EU Council President Charles Michel for a conference on the eastern Mediterranean, which should also focus on the relationship the EU and Turkey should have.

Bartolo and Çavuşoğlu also discussed the situation in Libya, including Turkey’s contribution of two patrol vessels to the Libyan coastguard.

The Libyan coastguard is seen as a crucial ally in stemming migration flows with Bartolo saying that almost 4,000 migrants had been stopped from arriving to Malta by the Libyan authorities.

More in Europe