Sunday, August 30, 2020

Mediterranean: EU considers sanctions against Turkey

 Turkey's line of action in exploring possible gas fields in the Mediterranean viewed as illegal by Greece and the increasingle reckless actions of the NATO-member in Libya brings the EU to ponder sanctions against turkish state officials, writes french newspaper Le Monde:


"New stage in the dispute between Istanbul and Athens in the eastern Mediterranean. The 27 member states of the European Union are preparing sanctions against Turkey, which could be on the agenda of the next summit, scheduled for September 24, announced Friday August 28, the high representative of the 'Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell.

"In the absence of progress on Turkey's part, we could draw up a list of new restrictive measures" to be discussed at the EU summit on September 24, Borrell said after a meeting of foreign ministers of member states in Berlin.

These sanctions, intended to limit Turkey's ability to prospect for hydrocarbons in disputed areas, could concern individuals, ships or the use of European ports, said Josep Borrell, adding that the EU is would focus on everything related to “activities that we consider illegal”.


The EU's foreign minister also said the EU was ready to sanction Turkish ships, deny them access to European ports or cut off their supplies. Sanctions could also target the Turkish economy.

The threat was greeted coldly by Ankara: "The EU's resort to the threat of sanctions does not help solve the problem," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said, adding that this on the contrary, urged his country to be more determined than ever.

For his part, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told Greek media: “I think the Greek side has obtained what it can, that is to say possible sanctions if Turkey does not choose not de-escalation and does not return to dialogue ”. "I hope that Turkey will come to its senses, stop provocations, arbitrary actions and stop violating international law," he added.

Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to the Presidential Press Association on Friday, said he wanted to re-engage "in a positive dialogue" with Turkey, but with "preconditions", stressing that "in recent years, the strategy that has that of Turkey is not the strategy of a NATO ally ”.

"I take full responsibility for what we did this summer, which was simply to have proportionate acts behind the words," Emmanuel Macron explained. Paris deployed two warships and two Rafale planes in mid-August to support Greece, which denounces Turkish searches for "illegal" hydrocarbons in its waters. "This is the red line policy that I have always had (...) when we talk about sovereignty in the Mediterranean, I have to be consistent in deeds and words (...). The Turks only consider and respect this. "

On the European side, however, the emphasis remains on the hope of a dialogue. "We want to give the dialogue a serious chance and I greatly appreciate the effort made by Germany [which holds the six-monthly presidency of the EU] to find solutions," Borrell said.

But given their "growing frustration" with Ankara's attitude, the 27 EU ministers have agreed to sanction new personalities, whose names have been suggested by Cyprus, for their role in Turkish exploratory drilling. in waters claimed by the island. Currently, only two people are subject to sanctions.

Ankara is still engaged in formal talks for EU membership, but this process is also under threat and could be suspended as a sanction, according to European diplomats.

Athens and Ankara are fighting over the sovereignty of an area of ​​the eastern Mediterranean rich in hydrocarbons. The launch of Turkish seismic prospecting operations two weeks ago, with the deployment of the Oruç Reis ship in an area between Crete and Cyprus, has exacerbated tensions in the region, with Greece deeming the initiative illegal because it encroaches on its territory. underwater field."

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