NICOSIA -- After blocking Greece's attempt to have the European Union sanction Turkey for sending an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, Germany called on Turkey to stop provocations – including continuing to drill for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.
The EU said it wouldn't take up the questions of sanctions until the end of the year to give diplomacy a chance, as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis agreed in withdrawing his call for now for sanctions.
But that came after Germany, home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and a major supplier of war arms to Turkey – which could be used against Greece if a conflict breaks out – already rejected penalties.
After all that, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Turkey should ratchet down the tension or face consequences at a December meeting of EU officials although those had previously resulted in more delays in acting.
The EU is fearful that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will unleash on the bloc – through Greece and its islands – more refugees and migrants who had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands, especially Syria and Afghanistan, and economic hardships in places such as sub-Saharan Africa.
"It is up to Turkey what decision will be taken at the EU summit in December," Maas said ahead of a meeting with his EU counterpart, the news agency Reuter reported as he gave a warning.
"If we see no positive signals coming from Turkey by December, only further provocations such as visit to North Cyprus, then we are heading for a difficult debate," Maas said.
That was a reference to Erdogan going to the abandoned resort of Varosha on the side of the island occupied by Turkey since an unlawful 1974 invasion and opening a beachfront there in violation of United Nations resolutions.
But in calling the occupied territory North Cyprus, Maas used the name given by Turkey and the self-declared republic on the northern third not recognized by any other country in the world so far.