On August 28th, European Union High Representative Josep Borrell gave a list of possible staggered sanctions to be imposed on Ankara if it continued its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The deadline for Turkey to change its behavior is September 24th, when the extraordinary EU Summit on relations with Turkey is to begin.
Borrell said that the EU was prepared to sanction Turkish vessels, blocking their access to EU ports and a ban on their access to European infrastructure, capital and technology.
“We can go to measures related to sectoral activities… where the Turkish economy is related to the European economy,” Borrell told a news conference in Berlin.
He also urged Ankara to “stop unilateral actions,” saying that de-escalation was a “key condition” for dialogue.
On the same day, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that he had spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discussed the creation of a mechanism to de-escalate tension within the alliance.
Erdogan insisted that Turkey wants a mutually beneficial deal for all countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In a statement after the summit, the spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Hami Aksoy condemned the EU for its unconditional support of its member state Greece and that it further escalated tensions.
“It is not up to the EU to criticize Turkey’s hydrocarbon activities within its own continental shelf and to call for their termination. Because, as confirmed by the European Court of Justice, the EU has no jurisdiction on this matter. This call is contrary to the EU’s own acquis and international law,” the statement read.
“We invite the EU and EU member-states not to support Greece’s maximalist claims in contravention of international law, under a pretext of union solidarity,” it added.
Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay on August 29th, accused the European Union of being “insincere” and warned that Turkey “will protect its rights over every cubic meter in the Eastern Mediterranean waters no matter what.”
“We [Turkey] are well aware of peace and diplomatic language, but we will not hesitate to do what is necessary when it comes to protecting the rights and interests of Turkey. France and Greece are among those who know this best,” Oktay said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.
If Athens’ attempts to expand its territorial waters isn’t a cause of war, then what is?” Oktay asked.
He referred to Athens’ plans to extend its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea and indications that similar moves may follow in other maritime areas.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Parliament this week that Greece plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles.
Greece maintains a right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in other sea areas, including the Aegean, when it sees fit, in accordance with the provisions of international law and its national interest.
Oktay said that “Turkey expects equity from the EU” and that “no one should expect Ankara to take a step back based on this equity.”
“It is insincere for the EU to call for dialogue on the one hand and make other plans on the other, regarding the activities we carry out in our own continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay also said.
One of the key islands that’s being used in the escalation of tensions is the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo, located just 2 kilometers off Turkish shore.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fumed that acknowledging Greek jurisdiction in the region would mean “imprisoning Turkey within its coastline.”
“The way Greece laid out Kastellorizo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) links Greece’s zone to Cyprus’s, de facto restricting Turkey’s to the Antalya bay area,” explains Panayotis Tsakonas, director of the security program at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).
“If the two countries can’t agree, they’ll have to bring their dispute to an international tribunal that will set the dividing line,” Tsakonas predicted.
And in recent days there were photographs of Greek troops getting off a tourist ferry on the island, as part of military exercises in the area.
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