Turkey does not expect EU sanctions over eastern Mediterranean dispute

Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis, background, anchored off Turkey’s southern coast on Sunday, easing eastern Mediterranean tensions a bit. (AP)
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Updated 14 September 2020

Turkey does not expect EU sanctions over eastern Mediterranean dispute

  • EU fully supports member states Greece and Cyprus in their dispute with Turkey
  • Threat of sanctions has in part pushed the Turkish lira deeper into record low territory

ISTANBUL: Turkey does not expect to face European Union sanctions over a dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, a day after a Turkish survey ship pulled out of contested waters.
The EU says it fully supports member states Greece and Cyprus in their dispute with Turkey and has said it is drawing up potential sanctions if dialogue does not begin. The bloc’s leaders could make a decision at a summit on Sept. 24-25.
Cavusoglu repeated Turkey was open to talks without pre-conditions, but added that the seismic research vessel Oruc Reis will soon resume operations after it anchored off Turkey’s southern coast on Sunday.
He said he did not expect EU leaders, who have already agreed modest sanctions against Turkey, to take further steps next week but such measures could not be ruled out.
“It could be against our ship, our company, individuals. They took such decisions in the past. Have we given up on our determination? No, our determination increased,” he told broadcaster NTV.
Tensions have risen over claims and counter claims pitting Turkey against Greece and Cyprus — which are backed by France — to maritime areas potentially rich in natural gas. Several countries have conducted naval exercise in the region, and Turkey has other vessels searching for oil and gas off Cyprus.
The threat of sanctions has in part pushed the Turkish lira deeper into record low territory, complicating the country’s recovery from a sharp economic slump due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey’s Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted on Monday that a peaceful solution could be found. “Greece and EU countries must not waste the chance given for diplomacy and must take reciprocal steps,” he said, without elaborating.
In a brief visit to Cyprus on Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States remains “deeply concerned” about Turkey’s actions at sea. Ankara responded that Washington needed to be more neutral.


Turkey may resume talks with Greece, warns against EU sanctions

Updated 20 September 2020

Turkey may resume talks with Greece, warns against EU sanctions

  • Countries locked in a bitter dispute over the extent of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean
  • Tensions flared last month when Turkey sent a vessel to survey for gas and oil in contested waters

ISTANBUL: Turkey and Greece could soon resume talks over their contested Mediterranean claims but European Union leaders meeting this week will not help if they threaten sanctions, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said on Sunday.
The NATO members and neighbors have been locked in a bitter dispute over the extent of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions flared last month when Turkey sent a vessel to survey for gas and oil in contested waters.
European Union member Greece condemned the move as illegal and pressed, along with Cyprus, for a strong response from EU leaders when they meet on Thursday.
Ankara withdrew the Oruc Reis vessel last week. It described the move as a routine maintenance stop but later said it opened up the chance for diplomacy to reduce tensions with Athens.
“At this point, the climate has become much more suitable for negotiations to begin,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told Dogan News Agency.” “… Exploratory talks may start again.”
Last month Greece and Turkey were on the verge of resuming those “exploratory” talks, suspended in 2016. But Turkey broke off contact and sent Oruc Reis into disputed waters after Greece signed a maritime demarcation deal with Egypt, angering Ankara.
Erdogan has had talks with EU Council president Charles Michel, who chairs the meetings of EU leaders, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking to ease the crisis.
But Cyprus, protesting the presence of two Turkish exploration vessels in waters off the divided island, insists on sanctions against Ankara and has blocked EU action against Belarus for alleged election fraud until its demands are met.
“Threats of blackmail and of sanctions against Turkey does not give results,” Kalin said. “European politicians should know this by now.”
Erdogan tweeted at the weekend that Turkey believed the dispute could be resolved through dialogue while still defending its rights in the region.
“We want to give diplomacy as much space as possible, by listening to every sincere call,” he tweeted. “With this vision, we will continue to defend any drop of water and area of our country to the end.”