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Politics

Greece Wants EU to Break Off Customs Union Deal With Turkey

ATHENS – Citing “continued provocations,” Greece's New Democracy government wants the European Commission to consider suspending a customs union agreement with Turkey but isn't demanding it.

The state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA, said it was told by diplomatic sources it didn't name that the request was made by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to the European Union's enlargement chief, Oliver Varhelyi.

Dendias reportedly said the Commission should consider the full suspension of the customs union “as a message of disapproval for Turkey's ongoing illegal behavior” against the bloc.

That was in reference to Turkey having sent an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo and planning to drill for oil and gas in Greek waters as it's been doing off Cyprus, undeterred by soft EU sanctions.

Dendias also stated that Turkey continues to unilaterally violate the EU-Turkey customs union by adopting unforeseen tariffs, as well as legislative and other measures, the paper said.

The EU, however, has shown no stomach to take on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, fearful he will unleash on the bloc through Greek islands more refugees and migrants who went to his country fleeing war, strife and economic hardships in their homelands.

The EU customs union is a 50-year-old agreement between European member states that facilitates free trade by ensuring they all apply the same import duties on goods entering the union. This means goods can then travel freely once they are within the EU.

In 2019, EU goods exports to Turkey in 2019 fell by 1.3% to 68.2 billion euros ($80.29 billion) while imports rose by 4.4 percent to 69.8 billion euros ($82.17 billion) showing their mutual dependency.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pulled back his demand for sanctions over the drilling plans to give diplomacy a chance but that blew up in his face when Erdogan, after seeing the EU withdrawing, sent his ships into Greek island waters.

FM Dendias has asked for an arms embargo on Turkey, sources say

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has sent letters to his German counterpart Heiko Maas and his Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez-Laya referring to Ankara's recent provocative actions and calling for an arms embargo on Turkey, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

In particular, in a letter to his German counterpart, the Greek minister requested that permits for the export to Turkey of certain types of military equipment, such as submarines, frigates, aircraft and armour upgrades, should not be granted, the sources clarified. Dendias also pointed out the recent series of provocative actions by Turkey, which, as he underlined, aim to create a fait accomplis using military means.

In this context, Dendias recalled the relevant intervention of Greece's prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at the last European Council regarding the obligation of the EU member-states, arising from the common position that they have adopted, to suspend the export of military equipment to third countries when this equipment is used in acts of aggression or regional destabilisation, which is precisely what Turkey is doing, the same sources said.

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