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Turkey Not Expecting EU Sanctions Over Maritime Tensions, Continues Seismic Survey in Mediterranean

Turkey Continues Seismic Survey in the Mediterranean

ANKARA – Turkey does not expect to be sanctioned by the European Union for maritime disputes with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean because the EU does not have a unified position on the issue, the Turkish minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday.
“France, Greece and Greek Cyprus are working on the idea of sanctions. Other countries have not supported it. I do not expect sanctions, although such a possibility remains. There are countries within the EU who do not support them (Such a decision must be adopted unanimously),” Cavusoglu told Turkish TV station NTV.
The minister described the EU as being held hostage by Greece.
“What are they trying to achieve? That we would give up our rights? No, on the contrary, we have become even more determined. The EU must decide: either they will be with Turkey or they will hang out in a country pampered,” he added.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have been developing for many months around Turkey’s exploration for gas in waters that Cyprus and Greece claim as their exclusive economic zones.
The situation was exacerbated this summer, with Turkey sending the ship Oruc Reis, accompanied by a fleet of military vessels, to drill in what Greece considers its continental shelf.
Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis reportedly left the disputed area for its base near Antalya, Turkey on Sunday amid growing tension in the region.
Earlier last week, the seven Mediterranean members of the EU, including France and Greece, confirmed their willingness to sanction Ankara if it does not resume dialogue and persists in carrying out allegedly unilateral activities in the eastern Mediterranean, during the MED7 summit in Corsica.
Turkey’s agreement with Libya on the reception of Mediterranean waters which Greece considers to be part of its exclusive economic zone is a response to Greek, Cypriot and Israeli actions in the region, which have been taken without regard to interests Ankara, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
He further said, “Greece and Cyprus signed agreements with Israel [on the EastMed gas pipeline project], in which they ignored our interests. But when we signed a deal with Libya, there were direct accusations. Our activities in the Eastern Mediterranean are a response to the front lines aligned against us. Why are they ignoring Turkey and creating tensions from which no one benefits instead of sharing the sea and winning? Cavusoglu said on broadcaster NTV’s TV station.
The senior diplomat added that two of Turkey’s drillships, Yavuz and Barbaros, were continuing their missions, while the ship Oruc Reis was under maintenance.
Cavusoglu went on to say that the European Union is unlikely to impose sanctions on Turkey over the maritime dispute.
“France, Greece and the Greek Cypriots want sanctions. The [EU] bloc could decide on September 24-25 to impose sanctions. Similar things have happened in the past,” the foreign minister said as quoted by Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.
As the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis began drilling in waters claimed by Greece in the Mediterranean in mid-August, Greece mobilized its armed forces on high alert and pledged to protect its sovereign rights by all necessary means, including militarily.
At the end of November 2019, the Libyan national accord government signed the memorandum of understanding on military cooperation and a new maritime border in the eastern Mediterranean with Turkey. As part of this agreement, Ankara will appropriate part of the lion’s share of the waters between Turkey and Libya in the Mediterranean, also claimed by Greece and Cyprus.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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