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EU Goes Easy, Turkey Blames Greece, Forges Ahead with Drilling Plans

Αssociated Press

Turkish drilling ship Kanuni is seen docked at the port of Haydarpasa in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ANKARA -- With the European Union setting aside any talk of sanctions for Turkish provocations against Greece, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said plans to hunt for energy around Greek waters and islands will resume full speed ahead.

He repeated Turkish claims that islands could not have a continental shelf, adding that Greeks “continue their provocative actions” and “increase tension” in the region despite Ankara’s “constructive, peaceful stance,” said Kathimerini.

He was talking to reporters during a visit to southeastern Turkey where he said it was Greece that’s using “threatening language” in order to achieve some goals and violate international laws Turkey doesn’t recognize.

Without mentioning that some Turkish officials want to go to war with Greece and have repeatedly uttered threats, he said that,  “Every time we emphasize that these moves are pointless, no threat has any impact on our country,” not stating what threats Greece made.

Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said his country’s Yavuz drilling rig would soon return “to its planned operations in the Eastern Mediterranean,” where it has been drilling in Cypriot waters, said the Greek paper ProtoThema.

While complaining about Turkish belligerence, neither Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nor Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades pressed for sanctions they had previously demanded, allowing the EU to go lenient on Turkey.

The Turkish ship had been operating in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from April to October 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled it back, as he did an energy research vessel and warships around the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

That was to avoid sanctions being discussed at an EU meeting, a tactic which worked then and again in March as the bloc’s leaders backed away again, Germany - home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and a major arms supplier to Turkey - refusing to go along with penalties.

Erdogan had already said sanctions wouldn’t work and has gone back to tough talk while Greece and Turkey resumed non-binding, unofficial so-called exploratory talks focused on competing claims to the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

“With this mentality, we have succeeded in Karabakh, Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean,” he boasted, dismissing criticism limited to press releases and tweets against Turkey.

He said of the EU, which imposed only soft sanctions for the Cypriot drilling and none for provocations against Greece, that, “none of their enforcement attempts that are not in line with ethics, law, justice and goodwill by those who do not respect Turkey’s sovereign rights, have and will have any value in our eyes.”

“The purpose of imposing criteria on us, which they never apply themselves, is not to direct our country in a more modern and successful way. We know full well that the goal is to make us waste more time and energy,” he added.

“From the defense industry to the energy sector, from the environment to human rights and from politics to civil liberties, to countless examples we have experienced, we did not satisfy and will not satisfy those hypocrites,” he went on, the report said.