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Politics

Mitsotakis Wants Hard Sanctions On Turkey for East Med Drill Plans

September 10, 2020

Rebuffed before, Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is pressing anew his insistence the European Union impose sanctions on Turkey for its attempt to hunt for energy in the East Mediterranean.

The first attempt was blocked by Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel had persuaded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pull back an energy research vessel and warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo. 

That was done under a maritime deal Turkey signed with Libya dividing the seas between them and claiming parts of Greece's Continental Shelf but he sent them back after Greece made a similar agreement with Egypt.

That had also led Erdogan to cancel planned talks in Ankara between officials fo the two countries, both members of NATO, which had refused to intervene over constant Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters.

He made his new call in an opinion piece published in the London Times, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and France's Le Monde newspapers as the tension remained near conflict levels.

"We do need dialogue, but not when held at gunpoint. What threatens my country's security and stability threatens the well-being and safety of all EU member states," Mitsotakis wrote.

The EU said unless Turkey reaches an agreement with Greece or otherwise pulls back its ships that staggered sanctions would be on the table at a Sept. 24-25 showdown with Erdogan, who has shown disdain for the bloc's warnings.

The EU had imposed only mild sanctions for Turkish drilling in Cypriot waters, exempting Erdogan, apparently fearful if provoked too much he would let human traffickers flood the bloc with more refugees and migrants through Greece.

"If Europe wants to exercise true geopolitical power, it simply cannot afford to appease a belligerent Turkey," Mitsotakis said without adding that has been Greece's strategy as part of continuing to back Turkey's EU membership hopes.

"They should stand down, return to the table, and pick up from where they left off when they quit exploratory talks in 2016. And if we cannot agree, then we must seek resolution at the Hague," he said, referring to the international court for sovereign disputes in The Netherlands.

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