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Greek PM raises sanctions threat against Turkey

Europe should hit Ankara with ‘meaningful sanctions’ if Turkey fails to withdraw from Eastern Med, says Mitsotakis.

The European Union must impose sanctions on Turkey unless Ankara pulls its maritime assets from disputed areas in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said in an opinion piece.

His comments came amid brewing tensions between Greece and Turkey and fears of a conflict erupting by accident, with the two countries locked in a decades-long dispute as they compete for control of oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey on August 10 deployed the Oruc Reis research vessel and an escorting flotilla of warships to the waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete. The vessel’s stay in the contested waters has been extended three times.

Greece responded by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and the United Arab Emirates, not far from smaller manoeuvres Turkey conducted recently between Cyprus and Crete.

“Later this month EU leaders will meet in special session to decide how to respond,” Mitsotakis wrote, in a column published on Thursday in the London Times, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and France’s Le Monde newspapers.

“If Turkey refuses to see sense by then, I see no option but for my fellow European leaders to impose meaningful sanctions. Because this is no longer just about European solidarity. It is about recognising that vital interests – strategic European interests – are now at stake. If Europe wants to exercise true geopolitical power, it simply cannot afford to appease a belligerent Turkey.

“There is still time for Turkey to avoid sanctions, to take a step back, and to chart a path out of this crisis. Turkey simply needs to refrain from its naval and scientific activity in non-delimitated waters, and rein in its aggressive rhetoric.”

Ankara has said it has every right to prospect the region and accuses Athens of trying to grab an unfair share of maritime resources.

On Tuesday, the Turkish ambassador to…

Al Jazeera

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