The European Union’s approach to reducing tensions with Turkey over a territorial dispute is falling apart after Turkey said it was resuming its search for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean, Reuters said on Wednesday, citing EU officials.
The EU’s leaders were divided on how to resolve the dispute at a summit on Oct. 2 aimed at persuading Ankara to stop exploring for natural gas in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Instead, they reached a compromise solution, agreeing on a “carrot-and-stick” formula with potential benefits for Turkey but also threatening sanctions.
“EU leaders kicked the can down the road by saying they would come back to the issue in December. Now it is coming back with a vengeance,” Reuters cited one EU diplomat as saying, referring to reports of Turkish and Greek navy exercises planned for late October.
To make way for diplomacy rather than face sanctions, Turkey had withdrawn a seismic research vessel from the disputed waters just before the EU summit. However, it has redeployed the ship this week.
Germany does not expect the EU to change its joint policy and approve draft sanctions against Turkey at a summit starting on Thursday, a German government source said, according to Reuters.