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‘Disruptor’ Erdogan faces sanctions over new oil mission in eastern Med

Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned. (AFP)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned. (AFP)
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13 Oct 2020 12:10:56 GMT9
13 Oct 2020 12:10:56 GMT9

ANKARA: Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned as a “disruptor of peace and stability” on Monday after he redeployed a survey vessel to search for oil in Greek territorial waters.

The Turkish president now risks sanctions from the EU, which condemned his “negative behavior.”

The redeployment of the survey vessel Oruc Reis protected by armed Turkish naval ships has added fuel to a bitter dispute between Turkey and Greece over exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara had withdrawn the vessel from Greek waters last month to “allow for diplomacy” before an EU summit at which Turkey was threatened with sanctions if it continued operations in the region.

“Turkey has proved it lacks credibility. All those who believed Turkey meant all it said before the European summit of Oct. 1-2 now stand corrected,” Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Monday.

“So the only issue here is to activate more drastic solutions, for Turkey to feel more stick and less carrot this time.”

The French Foreign Ministry said Turkey must stick to commitments, refrain from provocative actions and show good faith.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry described the new voyage as a “major escalation” and a “direct threat to peace in the region.”

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said: “Turkey is acting as the disruptor of peace and stability in the region. That is against international law.”

EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said the bloc would discuss Turkey’s behavior this week. The new deployment “will lead to new tensions instead of contributing to deescalation efforts we were calling for at the last European Council,” he said.

“We consider that Turkey needs to engage actively in finding solutions and not to engage in negative behavior.”

Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said Turkey used the exploration vessel deployments to harass Greece and create crises. The aim was to feed its citizens nationalist propaganda and to distract from a rapidly declining currency and failures in other regions, he said.

“Ankara has been doing this since June, always to challenge Greece under the guise of research, but actually to conduct naval drills,” he told Arab News.

“Greece could respond by doing the same around northern Cyprus, forcing Ankara to focus its attention elsewhere. Appeasing Ankara’s strategy has not worked and leaves Athens at the mercy every month of a new Ankara-created crisis.”

Efe Caman, an expert from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, said: “Turkey continues with its expansionism in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara doesn’t care about international law and doesn’t respect Greek sovereignty.”

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