ATHENS – After first saying the European Union was going soft on Turkish provocations, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he was satisfied with its approach of offering incentives instead of sanctions.
Dendias said the EU’s plan to appease Turkey – which he and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis initially blasted as appeasement – showed that Greece isn’t being left on its own.
“As the text of the European Council conclusions makes clear, thanks to the systematic effort of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the issue of relations with Turkey is now a Euro-Turkish issue,” he tweeted.
He didn’t explain why Greece wasn’t unhappy with the plan that favors incentives and set aside for a third time any idea of sanctions over Turkey’s plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he didn’t care either way as he was going to go ahead with the drilling anyway although he had for now pulled away an energy research vessel and warship from the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
Turkey had ripped the EU for taking sides with Greece – a member of the bloc that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005 – and initiated a charm offensive that worked to make the bloc’s leaders go easy.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had insisted that Greek-Turkey issues must not be as seen EU-Turkey problems and complained that, “The EU ignores the maximalist attitude of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo.
The “EU characterizes the drilling activities of our country and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean as illegal,” the Turkish ministry said, using a name for the occupied north of Cyprus no other country accepts.
“This is contrary to international law, it said, adding that the EU “has no jurisdiction over this matter,” although Turkey doesn’t recognize the United Nations Law of the Sea unless invoking to its advantage.
That was in reference to Cyprus also wanting a tougher stance for Turkey already drilling in Cypriot waters but didn’t get it and neither Mitsotakis nor Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades tried to block the EU’s lenient approach.