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Constantly referring to sanctions is ‘not constructive’: Ankara slams EU summit’s decisions on Eastern Mediterranean

Constantly referring to sanctions is ‘not constructive’: Ankara slams EU summit’s decisions on Eastern Mediterranean
The Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized EU leaders on Friday for their continued references to possible sanctions against Ankara, as the conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean simmers on.

The outcome of the EU summit which ended in Brussels on Friday showed that EU-Turkey relations had been “taken hostage” by Greece and Cyprus, according to Turkish diplomats.

“It is not constructive to continue to use the language of sanctions,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ankara is at loggerheads with both Greece and Cyprus over offshore energy rights and maritime borders in the Mediterranean region, with Ankara angering the EU allies by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in contested waters.

At the summit, EU leaders assured Cyprus they will review Turkey’s behavior in December, warning that sanctions will be imposed against Ankara if its “provocations” have not stopped, as the island country withdrew its opposition to sanctions on Belarus.

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In its statement released late on Thursday evening, the EU said it “strongly condemns violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, which must stop,” and called on Turkey “to abstain from similar actions in the future, in breach of international law” and accept Cyprus’ invitation for a dialogue.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official was quoted by Reuters earlier in the day as saying that any sanctions could only imperil talks on disputed maritime boundaries and would only “increase our resolve [to continue an offshore program].”

During his parliamentary speeches in Ankara before the summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the EU as a “hostage” of the “spoiled Greeks and the Greek Cypriot administration” and vowed to maintain his “determined approach.” He added, however, that he was committed to resolving disputes through dialogue.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that Greece and Turkey have set up a mechanism to avoid accidental clashes in the Eastern Mediterranean, in an effort to defuse a dispute over energy resources in the region.

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