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EU Sides With Greece, But Defers Sanctions Against Turkey

Ευρωκίνηση

Αρχείο: Συνάντηση του Πρωθυπουργού Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη με τον Πρόεδρο του Ευρωπαϊκού Συμβουλίου Charles Michel, την Τρίτη 15 Σεπτεμβρίου 2020, στο Μέγαρο Μαξίμου. (EUROKINISSI/ΤΑΤΙΑΝΑ ΜΠΟΛΑΡΗ)

Despite Turkey pressing an energy hunt off Greek islands, the European Union won't take up Greece's call for sanctions until December despite calling Turkey's actions “unacceptable.”

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis had withdrawn his demand for penalties at an October meeting between EU and Turkish officials to give diplomacy a chance.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seized the opening to send back off the Greek island of Kastellorizo the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis and warships, being shadowed by the Greek Navy, bringing fears of a conflict.

The EU has been reluctant to provoke Erdogan, fearful he will unleash on the bloc through Greece and its islands more refugees and migrants who had gone to his country fleeing war and strife in their homelands, especially Syria and Afghanistan.

Representing the 27 heads of state of the member states, European Council Charles Michel said diplomatically that the EU is prepared to take a “less positive” track against Turkey if there's no resolution by December.

With Mitsotakis withdrew his insistence on sanctions, Erdogan said that he wanted talks with Greek officials – in Ankara, not Athens – but after he sent his ships back into Greek waters Mitsotakis called them off.

“We expressed our determination to be respected and we agreed to work on two tracks, a positive track and a less positive one,” Michel said about Turkey, which was discussed briefly by EU leaders in a video conference about COVID-19.

“We offered a clear way to work towards a positive agenda with Turkey. So far Turkey has not chosen this path,” Michel said.

“We condemn the recent unilateral action in the Eastern Mediterranean, provocations and rhetoric which are completely unacceptable,” he added, although the EU has done almost nothing to stop it.