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EU Foreign Policy Chief Rips Turkey's Push Against Greece, But No Sanctions

Αssociated Press

Greece s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, and European Union s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pose for the photographers during their meeting at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS -- European Union foreign policy boss Josep Borrell said his visit to Greece, and the border with Turkey, showed him that Turkey is raising provocations that could be seen as an assault on the bloc as well, although little is being done to stop it.

Borell, said the Voice of America, warned Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that any further attempt to undermine Greece’s sovereignty would be seen as breaching the EU as well.

The EU, however, has issued only soft sanctions against Turkey for unlawful drilling in Cypriot waters - exempting Erdogan and top politicians - and issued only press releases in For all his tough talk, Borrell wouldn’t say if Turkey would face any further reprisals, as Erdogan has been emboldened by the bloc’s apparent unwillingness to take him on as he warned he would unleashed more refugees and migrants on the EU through Greek islands, and as he tried to get 10,000 across the land border near the Evros River Borrell visited.

Turkey has threatened to use force against Greece if it moves to block it from drilling for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean in waters Greece considers its own, said the VOA report, citing the threats to send more refugees and migrants.

Turkey is holding some 5.5 million of them under an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU which has done nothing about repeated violations in which Turkey allows human traffickers to keep sending them to give Greek islands near Turkey’s coast.

They had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands, especially Afghanistan and Syria’s civil war, but also economic migrants from sub-Saharan African and other countries reaching all the way to Pakistan.

After the EU closed its borders to them and reneged on promises to distribute an overload to other countries, they were left to seek asylum in Greece, the numbers creating backlogs in applications up to two years, held in detention centers and camps cited as unfit.

Accompanying Borrell on his border tour, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece is willing to settle differences with Turkey but wouldn’t be bullied.

"We are always open to dialogue but will not do so under duress. Nor will we help legitimize Turkey's persistent violation of legality," said Dendias. "It is violating almost daily national airspace, territorial waters, including overflights over inhabited areas here in Evros, and the Aegean Sea by armed warplanes.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who spoke to Erdogan for the first time in months as communications had essentially ceased during the COVID-19 pandemic, will raise the question of Turkish provocations at an EU meeting.

There’s also worry that a shooting conflict that could break up, accidentally or otherwise, especially after more Turkish politicians and officials said Turkey would use force to keep drilling off Cyprus and, if necessary, off Crete.

Turkey and Libya divided the seas between them in a maritime deal unrecognized by another country, Turkey claiming Greek waters and parts of the Continental Shelf, with Turkey sending a map to the United Nations asking for ratification.

New Democracy Member of Parliament Tassos Hadjivassiliou said he’s worried that relations with Turkey will worsen ahead of the US elections, especially with President Donald Trump saying Erdogan is a friend and a “hell of a leader.”

That gives Erdogan, Hadjivassiliou said, a free hand to act between September and November, when the U.S. Presidential election will be held despite Greece and US renewing a military cooperation deal and the US also seeking a wider military presence in the country.