Fearful of irritating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan because he might send more refugees and migrants into the bloc, the European Commission won't impose sanctions over Turkish provocations in the seats with Greece.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked for tough measures to be taken with Turkey sending an energy research vessel and warships into waters near Greek islands but was ignored as usual.
Instead, European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano told reporters the response would be limited to words trying to persuade Erdogan to call off his ships, which he said he won't.
“We agree that the situation in the eastern Mediterranean is extremely worrying and needs to be solved in dialogue and not in a series and sequence of steps that are increasing the escalation and the tension,” he told journalists, adding that the EU stands "in full solidarity" with Greece and also Cyprus, where Turkey has been drilling for oil and gas and the EU issuing only soft sanctions.
Asked about Greece’s announced intention to request for an emergency EU Foreign Affairs Council, Stano said these are “always an issue of consultations among the member states” and that the appeal would be reviewed once Greece makes a formal request, said Kathimerini.
In July, Greece asked the European Union to prepare “crippling” economic sanctions for use against neighboring Turkey if it goes ahead with planned offshore gas and oil exploration off Greek islands, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said.
“The European Union is Turkey's biggest trading partner,” Dendias told private Star TV. ”If it wants, it can create a huge problem for the Turkish economy. That's not my wish … but we must be clear."
Greece says it has exclusive rights in the areas targeted by Turkey, which in the case of Crete lie far off the Turkish coast. Turkey said it is justified in exploring there following a deal it signed with the internationally-recognized government of civil war-wracked Libya, on the far side of the Mediterranean.
Dendias added that if Greece comes under armed attack from its neighbor, it will invoke a section of the 2009 Treaty on European Union that obliges member states to provide aid and assistance to another EU country facing armed aggression although the bloc has no army or navy.