- European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threatened Turkey with possible new sanctions including wide-ranging economic measures
- During their meeting in Berlin, the European Union foreign ministers agreed to Cyprus' request to impose sanctions on more people
- A dispute over maritime borders and gas exploration rights has re-ignited the historic rivalry between Athens and Ankara
The European Union renewed its support for Greece and Cyprus which has heightened fears of a possible military confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean. The dispute is with Turkey over the wealth of the Eastern Mediterranean. The EU has threatened Turkey with more sanctions, but stressed in return the need to give diplomacy the opportunity.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell threatened Turkey with possible new sanctions, including wide-ranging economic measures, unless progress is made towards reducing tension with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
Borrell said that the European Union wants to give “dialogue a serious opportunity”, but is steadfast in its support for the two member states of the European Union, Greece, and Cyprus in the crisis.
“We can go to measures related to sectoral activities, where the Turkish economy is related to the European economy,” Borrell told a news conference.
During their meeting in Berlin, the European Union foreign ministers agreed to Cyprus’ request to impose sanctions on more people against the background of their role in Turkey’s exploration operations in water areas claimed by the island.
“It is beyond the limits of the EU to criticize the hydrocarbon activities of our country within our own continental shelf and demand that we stop them,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy.
A dispute over maritime borders and gas exploration rights has re-ignited the historic rivalry between Athens and Ankara, with the two countries holding separate naval military exercises.
“It [Athens] not only wants that dialogue to be a political agreement to what the two sides agree based on the current dynamic in the eastern Mediterranean but international,” said John Psarapoulous, Al Jazeera reporter from Athens. “[Greece] wants Turkey to commit to arbitration at the International Court [of Justice] at The Hague if the dialogue doesn’t ultimately succeed.”
Ankara Warned Against Unilateral Action
Borrell urged Ankara to “abstain from moving unilaterally” as a prerequisite for clearing the way for progress in the dialogue, in which Germany is playing the mediating role.
“We agreed that in the absence of progress on the part of Turkey, we may draw up a list of further restrictions which are expected to be discussed during the (meeting) of the European Council on September 24-25,” Borrell said after the talks.
When asked about the nature of the sanctions, Borrell said that they might be expanded to include ships or other assets used in exploration operations, in addition to banning the use of European Union ports and equipment and imposing restrictions on “the financial and economic infrastructure associated with these activities.”
He added that broad sanctions may also be considered against entire sectors of the Turkish economy, but he indicated that this would only take place if the specific measures against drilling operations did not prove their effectiveness.
The Turkish response was not too late. The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that the European Union has no “authority” to demand that Turkey end its “legitimate” search for resources in the eastern Mediterranean, accusing the bloc of “increasing tensions” in the region. A statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Ankara expects the European Union to play the role of “neutral mediator” in the conflict.