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Politics

Mitsotakis Raises EU Sanctions Again Against Turkish Provocations

STRASBOURG – It was blocked before by Germany and Spain, but Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he may again ask the European Union for sanctions against Turkey for repeated violations of Greece’s sovereignty.

Germany and Spain have lucrative arms deals and businesses operating in Turkey and prevented the bloc from getting tough on Turkey which has continued to violate Greek airspace and waters with fighter jets and warships.

During a meeting of the center-right European People’s Party in Strasbourg, France, Mitsotakis said the EU can sanction Turkey although there’s not been the political will to do it, with worry Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will unleash more refugees and migrants, mainly through Greece and its islands.

Erdogan also has said that at some point he will again send an energy research vessel and warships back toward the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete to look for oil and gas.

Mitsotakis, who has denied accusations from human rights groups and activists that Greece is pushing back refugees and migrants – who are coming from Turkey where they went fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, again rejected the claims.

“I would like to thank you all again for your support, especially when we are accused of alleged human rights abuses and these accusations come from a country not noted for its stellar record in respecting human rights. I am referring to Turkey, of course,” Mitsotakis said.

“This is why this two-tier approach we have taken, extending a hand of friendship while at the same time preparing a set of possible dissuasive measures that could be used if Turkey returns to an aggressive attitude towards Greece and Cyprus is still, in my opinion, the right approach,” he added, said Kathimerini.

Mitsotakis noted that Greece has “proved that effective protection of external borders with full respect for fundamental rights is a strategy that can really work,” adding that “this is only one aspect of the problem.”

“One of the areas in which we need to work much more systematically is the issue of returns at European level. It is a big problem for all the countries that are on the external borders. But overall, I believe that we have proved that the strategy we have implemented works in practice,” he said.

He was in Strasbourg to attend a memorial ceremony for the late President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, who died Jan. 11, saying he remembered Sassoli’s visit to Athens in May 2021 to mark Greece’s 40th anniversary to the (then) European Economic Commission.

In the book of condolences, the Greek premier paid tribute to a “true European leader,” noting that Sassoli “always fought for the promotion of social solidarity.”

Mitsotakis also spoke at a meeting of MEPs of the European People’s Party, whom he told: “I felt it was my duty to pay tribute to David Sassoli. I remember with emotion his presence in Athens last May, when he was with us to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greece’s accession to the European Economic Community.”

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