Turkey has rejected a statement by seven European countries threatening sanctions against Ankara amid its conflict with Greece over energy and maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
On Friday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Cyprus had taken this view. “Detached from reality”, “addicted” and lacked a legal basis.
The ministry’s response followed a summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Corsica, where the leaders of the seven countries said they were ready to support EU sanctions against Turkey if Ankara abandons the dialogue.
“If Turkey refuses to see the point … I see no other option but for my fellow European leaders to impose significant sanctions. Because this is no longer just about European solidarity. It is about recognizing that vital interests – strategic European interests – now If Europe wants to exercise real geopolitical power, it simply cannot afford to appease warring Turkey. ” Mitsotakis wrote.
Tensions have erupted between the EU and Turkey, which, like Greece, is a NATO member, after Ankara sent a study ship to outline possible prospects for oil and gas drilling in territorial waters claimed by Greece and areas claimed by Cyprus.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Greece should “sit unconditionally at the negotiating table with Turkey”, urging Athens to withdraw its warships from around the Turkish research ship Oruc Reis.
Will Greece and Turkey fight for energy?
“We urge Greece to abandon its illegal and maximalist claims to maritime areas,” the Turkish foreign ministry said, adding that EU countries supporting Greece’s claims must abandon their “unilateral” approach.
In a joint statement, the EU’s seven Mediterranean countries said the bloc would draw up a list of new sanctions against Turkey in late September, unless Ankara holds talks to resolve the dispute with Greece and Cyprus.
The EU is ready to develop a list of additional restrictive measures that can be discussed at the European Council on 24-25 September, the statement said.
On Thursday, Macron stepped up anti-Turkish rhetoric and launched a war of words, but eventually struck a softer tone, saying European leaders generally wanted to re-engage in dialogue with Ankara “in good faith.”
Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, a Paris-based reporter, said: “This summit was not just a demonstration of solidarity with Greece. Macron’s goal is to put pressure on EU leaders to take a united and firmer stance against the leadership of Turkey – and to stop Ankara’s actions, which are seen by France as an insult to the bloc. “
Pierre Husky, a Paris-based journalist, told Al Jazeera: “The French analysis is that Turkey feels Europe is so weak and vulnerable that it can play the fact and will not be able to react. That is why I think France is trying to test Turkey as a force or not. “
Al Jazeera and news agencies