Greece says EU should not wait to sanction Turkey

(Updates with Greek, Turkish, U.S. officials' statements)

Greece said the European Union's decision to allow time for Turkey to show sincerity about de-escalating political and military tensions had proven ineffective and the bloc should not wait to impose sanctions, Greek newspaper the National Herald reported

The European Unions political leaders agreed early this month to impose sanctions on Turkey should it fail to end so-called illegal provocations in a row with Greece over energy resources and maritime borders. EU members have agreed to give exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece a chance before reviewing Turkey's behaviour in December.

"There is escalation. Therefore we don't need to wait until the European Council in December. For this reason, the next EU Council will be very important for the sanctions' toolbox," Greek government spokesman Stelios Petras said on Monday, referring to a meeting of the EU’s leadership scheduled for this week.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece flared up in August when Turkey sent a research vessel into a maritime zone south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo also claimed by Athens. Tensions eased when the research ship returned to Turkish waters late last month and both sides said they were ready to resume talks on territorial boundaries suspended in 2016.

However, Turkey announced on Sunday that the vessel would begin work in the same disputed area again.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday that Turkey was “subverting peace and stability in the region”, citing what he called illegal Turkish activities within the Greek continental shelf, according to Greek Reporter.

He said that Turkey “is the common denominator in all the problematic situations in the area from Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, Iraq, Cyprus and the southeastern Mediterranean,” and is a country acting “against international law, against the conclusions of the European Council.”

Petras said on Tuesday that Greece would not engage in exploratory talks with Turkey as long as Turkish survey vessel Oruç Reis remains in its continental shelf waters.

Turkey is calling for dialogue to resolve matters in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday

"Do not test us. Let's solve whatever needs to be done through talks, through dialogue,” Akar said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Akar said that Turkey is in favour of good neighbourly relations and of respecting bilateral agreements in accordance with international law and customs to resolve disputes.

On Tuesday, the United States slammed Turkey’s announcement to send Oruç Reis ship to disputed waters, blaming Ankara for escalating tensions in the region and ‘deliberately’ complicating the resumption of talks with Greece.

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