Turkey condemned over ‘provocative’ actions in Mediterranean – ‘EU patience running out’

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Turkey restarted its exploration of natural gas in the contested waters earlier this week – a month after removing its Oruc Reis survey vessel from the territory. Following an EU summit, Angela Merkel branded the latest actions of Turkey “provocative”. Meanwhile, Stelios Petsas, Deputy Minister and Greek Government spokesman, accused Ankara of being “unreliable”, and warned “Europe’s patience with Turkey is running out”.

France and Germany warned earlier this week Turkey had only “weeks” to revise its stance in the Mediterranean after the bloc previously threatened economic sanctions.

Greece and Cyprus have pushed for tougher actions against Turkey by the European Union.

Mr Petsas said: “The prevailing climate indicates that Turkey has proven unreliable.

“Even certain countries that believed Turkey would do what is said have been contradicted by developments in recent days.

“So, what we have is a climate which indicates that Europe’s patience with Turkey is running out, because Europe had been deceived by Turkey.”

EU leaders reaffirmed its opposition to the activity of Turkey in the region, but agreed to give Ankara until December before considering any action.

Speaking in the Belgian capital, the German Chancellor said: “We agreed that the recent unilateral measures taken by Turkey, which are of course provocative, are increasing tensions rather than easing them.”

She added: “We are keen to continue along the path we have taken with Turkey.

“The further development of EU-Turkey relations is in the interest of both sides.”

European Council President Charles Michel, added: “We plan a summit in December.

“And we have planned, indeed, to tackle again and to assess the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and in Turkey.”

Relations between Greece and Turkey have been on the edge ever since two vessels from Athens and Ankara collided following the discovery of large gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea.

In August, Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel near to the location of hydrocarbon resources – a move Athens branded illegal.

In the wake of the marine dispute, Greece announced plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles – a move condemned by Turkey.

Last month, the two sides had agreed to end a four-year hiatus and restart exploratory talks, but discussions have since broke down.

Ankara insists Athens has no right to intervene in its activity more than nine miles (15km) from its mainland in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said the activity range was “fully within Turkish continental shelf”.


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Turkey called on Greece to withdrawal its accusations and get back to the negotiating table.

In a statement earlier this week, the foreign ministry said: “It is unacceptable for there to be opposition against our country, which has the longest coastline to the eastern Mediterranean, operating 15km from its mainland.

“Our expectation from Greece is for it to withdraw its maximalist claims that are contrary to international law… put an end to its exercises and military activities that increase tensions in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and to enter into a sincere dialogue with us.”

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