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Politics

Greek Foreign Chief Irked by EU’s Slow Boat to Turkey Sanctions

December 20, 2020

ATHENS – Although Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was satisfied the European Union gave Turkey a warning it might in March, 2021 face sanctions for plans to drill for oil and gas off Greek islands, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias isn't.

He said the EU, reluctant to confront Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in fear he will unleash on the bloc through Greek islands more refugees and migrants being held in his country, is “moving at a slow pace.”

Despite that, Dendias said Greece will – after first pulling back the call for sanctions in October to give diplomacy a chance, which immediately failed – keep pushing for penalties “with patience and persistence,” said Kathimerini.

That would, however, allow Turkey to renew its temporarily-delayed hunt for oil and gas off the island of Kastellorizo, with Erdogan, seeing the EU pulling back, saying Turkish ships will position themselves off Crete for energy research.

“A step has been made, but … the government has never claimed it was enough,” Dendias said in an interview to Parapolitika newspaper, referring to the EU at a Dec. 10-11 stepping back from sanctions.

At the time, Mitsotakis said “sanctions were not an end to themselves,” after he said they were as he tried to spin why he accepted the EU's reticence, led by Germany, home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and arms supplied for Turkey.

Dendias said Greece wanted an embargo on EU countries sending weapons to Turkey that could be used against Greece – the two are NATO allies – but Greece's alleged supporters have too much to lose in trade if they stop shipping armaments.

Dendias asked: “How can they justify their stance when the main pillar of the Euro-Atlantic alliance, the United States, imposed sanctions on Turkey on the basis of the argument that the country is undermining NATO unity and security?”

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