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Politics

EU’s Plan to Help Greece, Cyprus, Deal With Turkey: Yakking

Showing no stomach or political will to take on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his country's ships plan to plunder the seas around Greek islands as they are doing off Cyprus, the European Union urged more dialogue, a tactic he has disdained and has failed.

In what they call an an extraordinary summit, EU leaders took the same approach as did the foreign ministers of the other 26 countries besides Greece when they too suggested talking with Turkey and wouldn't consider sanctions.

That's despite Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis urging them to get tough, and Cyprus calling them out for trying to appease Erdogan even as they have emboldened him.

Turkey has an energy research vessel and 10 warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo close to Turkey's coast, shadowed by the Greek Navy in a tense standoff amid fears a conflict could break out accidentally or otherwise.

With no navy or military and fearing Erdogan will unleash more refugees and migrants on the bloc through Greek islands, the EU issued only soft sanctions over the drilling off Cyprus – exempting Erdogan – and wouldn't even take up the subject with Turkey, despite Mitsotakis' exhortations.

Since Erdogan canceled a planned meeting in Ankara of Greek and Turkish officials over the seas stalemates as Turkey claims part of Greece's Continental Shelf under a maritime deal with Libya it wasn't clear what the EU meant by urging further dialogue if Turkey won't talk.

Erdogan halted discussions after Greece, in response to his deal with Libya, signed a similar deal with Egypt, setting Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ's)in he East Mediterranean while Turkey also claims Greek waters in the Aegean.

Kicking the can down the road, a favorite strategy in Brussels, the EU said the case of Turkish provocations will be taken up again at yet another extraordinary summit on Sep. 24-25 unless a conflict breaks out and it's too late.

The meeting was aimed to focus on Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashekno, known as Europe's last dictator, extended his 26 years in power with rigging his re-election, the EU reluctant to do anything about that either.

But Mitsotakis seized the moment to go after his peers for sitting on their hands

telling them that, “Turkey is systematically violating international law,” while insisting that Greece has never refused dialogue and even offered it.

“But not as long as there is tension at sea, on land and in the air, and, in any case, this dialogue will only be on our difference, which is the delimitation of the maritime zones,” he clarified. 

He detailed how Turkey issued a so-called NAVTEX setting aside waters that Turkey and the United States call “disputed” in Erdogan's grand plans to take over the seas and claim oil and gas, unfettered by sanctions.

He and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who had said Turkey, which seized the northern third of the island in 1974, is now conducting an energy invasion while the EU looks the other way, said the bloc's leaders were hypocritical in talking about getting tough with Belarus but not Turkey.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had intervened to prevent a conflict in persuading Erdogan to pull his ships away from Greek waters before he sent them back in, refused to support sanctions, angry over the timing of the Greece-Egypt deal that led him to scuttle the talks.

“It is very dangerous,” she said, noting that “the dialogue on the contentious issues of the demarcation of the maritime borders, especially between Greece and Turkey, must resume,” even though it has failed utterly.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that “the most important thing is the willingness of all parties to engage in dialogue,” repeating the line.

While he expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus as the EU always does before doing nothing, European Council chief Charles Michel said that “all options are on the table,” although none of them were considered.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz demanded “a clear reaction from the EU against Turkey,” said Kathimerini in a report on the meeting that went nowhere fast and deferred doing anything.

Anastasiades said the EU can't continue its timid approach with Turkey before it did just that as he warned that would just strengthen Erdogan's hand if he sees no response to the repeated transgressions.

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