BRUSSELS – Reluctant to impose tough sanctions or confront President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for fear he will unleash more refugees and migrants on the bloc, the European Union's foreign chief Joseph Borrel said Turkey should respect the sovereignty of Greece.
Erdogan doesn't but Borrel made the latest try to convince him as Turkey, already drilling for energy off Cyprus, said it will do the same off Greek islands under a maritime deal signed with Libya dividing the seas between them.
No other country in the world recognizes the agreement nor does the United Nations yet although Turkey submitted a map for approval claiming Greek and Cypriot waters as Erdogan has given the go-ahead, ignoring the EU as he did Greece and Cyprus.
Turkey is expanding its influence in the East Mediterranean and Aegean without anyone stopping him beyond issuing statements, tweets and press releases urging, nearly pleading, cajoling and asking Erdogan to back off, which hasn't happened yet.
Kathimerini reported in response to questions about Turkish plans to begin hydrocarbon exploration near Greek islands that Borrell said, “We are in close contact with our colleagues, the foreign ministers of Greece and also Cyprus, in order to follow the situation of the drillings, and we are calling on Turkey to stop drilling in the areas where there is the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) or territorial waters of Cyprus and Greece,” said Borrell.
That was diplomatic boilerplate that has been repeated countless times and ignored by Erdogan who has been exempted from any of the soft sanctions the EU has issued so far over the Cyprus drilling.
He said that the Foreign Affairs Council “already delivered a strong message addressed to Turkey,” but wouldn't say what it was as he said Turkey's constant violations were an issue of “utmost importance” over Turkey's hopes of joining the bloc, which has been going on since 2005 with no headway.
Greece has turned as well to the UN Security Council, and NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong and has refused to intervene over Turkey's violations, hoping to put pressure on.
Turkey published a map outlining areas of the Greek continental shelf where the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has applied for exploration permits in waters where Greece says Turkey has no rights.
For all that, Turkey's Foreign Ministry would go ahead with planning to drill in areas up to six nautical miles from Rhodes, Kassos, Karpathos and Crete in Greec's Continental Shelf which Turkey is claiming.
Erdogan’s National Security Council announced that Turkey would continue to protect its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, “without any compromise,” once again rejecting any attempt to stop him from going ahead.