Monday, April 19, 2021

Erdogan: EU sanctions threats against Turkey “do not concern us” | Middle East

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The president’s comments come as the report suggests the EU will step up sanctions on Turkish drilling at a summit on Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the European Union of never acting honestly towards his country and said Ankara was not concerned about economic sanctions the bloc might impose on it.

His comments on Wednesday came on the eve of an EU summit at which sanctions against Ankara will be considered.

EU foreign ministers said on Monday that Turkey had not helped end a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over potential gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean, but they left a decision on sanctions for their meeting on Thursday.

Turkey, a NATO member, disagrees with EU members Greece and Cyprus over the extent of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions erupted in August when Turkey sent its study vessel Oruc Reis to waters claimed by Greece.

“The EU has never acted honestly, it has never kept its promises [towards Turkey]. But… we have always been patient. We are always patient, ”Erdogan told reporters ahead of a visit to Azerbaijan.

“Any sanctions decision that can be taken against Turkey does not concern us much,” Erdogan said, adding that Greece had “fled” negotiations with Turkey despite agreeing to resume talks on their conflicting maritime claims.

“In the Eastern Mediterranean, we will continue to protect whatever our rights are,” he said. “It’s never possible for us to compromise here. But if Greece truly acts as a neighbor, we will continue to be available at the table.

After removing the Oruc Reis ship for what it said was maintenance ahead of a previous EU summit in October, Ankara redeployed it soon after, citing the unsatisfactory results of the summit. He withdrew the ship again last week.

European Council President Charles Michel has warned Turkey not to play ‘cat and mouse’ by withdrawing ships before EU summits, only to redeploy them afterwards.

France, with the support of the European Parliament, is leading the EU campaign for sanctions. On Monday, Erdogan said Turkey would not “give in to threats and blackmail”, although he also reiterated his call for dialogue.

EU to toughen sanctions against Turkish drilling: draft declaration

Reuters reported on Thursday that if agreed, the EU will “prepare additional lists” based on a sanctions list already in place since 2019, and “if necessary, will work on extending” its scope. application, according to the draft declaration seen by the press agency.

The EU created a sanctions program last year to punish unauthorized explorations in the eastern Mediterranean, freezing the assets of people and companies accused of planning or participating in activities in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus or on its continental shelf.

So far, only senior officials from the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, a Turkish state-owned company, have been put on the sanctions list, but Cyprus offered a list of additional names earlier this year.

Negotiations over the two-page statement are still ongoing and Greece and Cyprus, which accuse Turkey of drilling for hydrocarbons off its continental shelf, believe the sanctions do not go far enough.

“We welcome the additional lists,” a Cypriot diplomat said, according to Reuters. “We would like to see preparations for targeted sectoral measures at a later stage, in February or March, if Turkey’s behavior does not change.”



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