Turkey has been engaged in a maritime border dispute with Greece and Cyprus over the size of their exclusive economic zones in the Eastern Mediterranean. Athens and Nicosia have voiced their objection to the presence of Turkish exploration vessels in waters that both Greece and Cyprus claim to be part of their respective exclusive economic zones.
The EU leaders could discuss potential sanctions against Turkey over its actions in Eastern Mediterranean in December, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Thursday.
“There are new provocations every time, unfortunately, so this is up to Turkey. Unless there are some positive signals from Turkey by December, if the provocations, such as [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s visit to Northern Cyprus, continue, there will be a difficult discussion [at the summit of EU leaders in December]”, Maas said ahead of the meeting of foreign ministers.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in September he did not expected the EU to sanction Turkey over the maritime disputes with Greece and Cyprus and that the bloc does not have a unified stance on the issue.
His statement comes after the summit of the seven Mediterranean countries of the European Union (EU-Med) expressed full support and solidarity with Cyprus and Greece in the face of Turkey’s confrontational actions, and also proposed expanding sanctions against Ankara.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have been brewing for many months around Turkey’s exploration for gas in waters that Cyprus and Greece claim as their exclusive economic zones. The situation was exacerbated this summer, as Turkey sent the Oruc Reis ship, accompanied by a fleet of military vessels, to drill in what Greece considers its continental shelf.