Daily US Times: The European Union (EU) has threatened Turkey with fresh sanctions – including tough economic measures – unless progress is made in reducing soaring tensions with Cyprus and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean.
On Friday, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc wanted to give “a serious chance to dialogue” but was steadfast in its support for member states Cyprus and Greece in the crisis, which has raised fears of a military standoff.
A dispute over maritime borders and gas drilling rights near the island of Cyprus has reignited the long-running rivalry between Ankara and Athens, with the two neighbours staging rival naval drills.
The EU’s measures, meant to limit Turkey’s ability to explore for natural gas in contested waters, could include ships, individuals, or the use of European ports, Borrell said.
Borrell told a news conference, referring to possible sanctions: “We can go to measures related to sectoral activities … where the Turkish economy is related to the European economy.”
He said: The EU would focus on everything related to “activities we consider illegal.”
Borrell was speaking after EU foreign ministers met in Germany’s capital Berlin to discuss support for Greece after it ratified a maritime accord with Egypt to counter Turkey’s claims to energy resources in the region.
‘Beyond the limits of EU’
Turkey’s foreign ministry rejected Greek maritime claims and said the EU had no basis for its stance.
Spokesman Hami Aksoy said: “It is beyond the limits of the EU to criticise the hydrocarbon activities of our country within our own continental shelf and demand that we stop them.”
Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said Turkey has urged the European Union “not to support Greece’s maximalist demands against international law under the pretext of union [EU] solidarity”.
Koseoglu said, citing a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman: “Greece is not an archipelago state. It is illegal under international law for Greek islands to have a continental shelf.”
Borrell and Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas said the EU first wanted to give dialogue a chance to cool tensions between Greece and Turkey, which are NATO allies.