The EU should not ‘dare to’ sanction Turkey, says Turkish foreign minister

The European Union should not  “dare to’’ impose sanctions on Turkey over tensions with Greece and Cyprus on hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean,  Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Italian newspaper La Stampa.


Sanctions from the bloc “would have the opposite effect and would only strengthen our determination to protect our rights and those of the Turkish Cypriots,” Yeni Şafak newspaper cited Çavuşoğlu as telling the newspaper on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.

On Friday, the EU’s political leaders vowed to decide on sanctions against Turkey by the end of the year should it persist with what it called provocations in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara is locked in a dispute with Athens and Nicosia over territorial waters.

Turkey has sent survey ships escorted by its navy into contested waters near Greek islands and Cyprus to explore for hydrocarbons, sparking military tensions with neighbouring Greece and reprimands from the EU and the United States. 

The Turkish government maintains its actions are legal, saying the ships have not strayed from its continental shelf. But the EU has expressed full support for member states Greece and Cyprus in the dispute with Turkey over the contested waters. 

Çavuşoğlu told La Stampa that Turkey was “taking all necessary measures’’ to attain dialogue with all parties involved in the disagreement and expected the EU to do the same.

Turkey has withdrawn its survey ships from the contested areas and will start negotiations with Greece on resolving the standoff. Earlier this week, NATO said the two sides had agreed on a framework for the talks.

Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey has fulfilled its refugee commitments to the EU.

“Thanks to our efforts, irregular migratory flows to Europe have been reduced by 92 percent,’’ Çavuşoğlu said, noting that the bloc had failed to keep its commitments to Ankara.

Turkey and EU in 2016 agreed on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece. According to the deal, the EU promised the allocation of €3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, but the visa restrictions still remain.

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