EU Readies for Turkey Showdown Over Greece, Sanctions Unlikely

September 30, 2020

A meeting between European Union leaders and Turkey on Oct. 1-2 isn't expected to lead to talks of sanctions for Turkish provocations in Greece's seas as Greece and Turkey are set to talk about their dispute at a later date.

European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders, has said that “all options remain on the table” with regards to sanctions but Germany opposes them.

“Our objective is to create a space for a constructive dialogue with Turkey to achieve stability and security in the whole region, and to ensure full respect for the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all EU member states,” Michel said.

That was a likely opening for Turkey to proceed unhindered in talks with Greek officials in Ankara, not Athens, although Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wants sanctions if that fails.

“This will only be possible if Turkey engages constructively,” Michel said of the exploratory talks about Turkey insisting it will proceed with drilling for oil and gas off Greek islands after twice sending the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis and warships off Kastellorizo.

“All options remain on the table to defend the legitimate interests of the EU and its member States,” he said without saying what they would be and would almost certainly exempt Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey, which has been trying since 2005 to join the EU, has ignored soft EU sanctions for drilling off Cyprus, a member of the bloc, whose ships and planes are barred from Turkey, which doesn't recognize Cyprus.

Speaking during a German Marshall Fund hosted webinar, Nathalie Tocci, Deputy Director of Istituto Affari Internazionali in Italy and Special Adviser to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said sanctions wouldn't worr and called for “a reset in the Turkey-EU relationship,” Al-Monitor reported.

“I would be very surprised if  (penalties are imposed) in a context in which exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey will be or look like they will be resumed,” Tocci said.

NATO, the defense alliance to which Greece and Turkey belong but which had refused to intervene over Turkish provocations, held technical talks between the sides to prevent a conflict but it wasn't said what happened.


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