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EU Council President Says Bloc Bemoans Turkey's 'Provocations' in East Mediterranean

Sputnik News

Oleg Burunov. Sputnik International
12:29 GMT 16.10.2020(updated 13:31 GMT 16.10.2020)

On Thursday, France and Germany warned Turkey against continuing to provoke the EU with its actions in the eastern Mediterranean, giving Ankara a week to clarify its position on exploring natural gas in the area.

European Council President Charles Michel has expressed regret over what he described as Turkey's provocative actions in the eastern Mediterranean.

"We deplore the unilateral actions and provocations by Turkey", Michel told a news conference after an EU summit in Brussels on Friday. He added that the bloc plans "to assess the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and in Turkey" during the EU summit scheduled for December.

The remarks come a day after Paris and Berlin warned Ankara not to contunue provoking the EU with its actions in the eastern Mediterranean, also giving Turkey a week to clarify its position on exploring natural gas in the area.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a news conference on Thursday that "it's clear to us that Turkey is permanently carrying out provocative acts, which are unacceptable".

He was echoed by his German counterpart Heiko Maas, who slammed Turkey's recent decision to send a research vessel back to the Mediterranean as "inadmissible".

"It's been twice that expected discussions have not taken place and we don't know when they will happen. We must wait to see if there is progress in a week and then we'll see what attitude needs to be adopted by the EU", Maas said when asked about the possibility of the bloc slapping economic sanctions on Ankara.

This was preceded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying in a phone talk with Michel on Monday that Ankara expects "concrete steps" from the EU on holding a regional conference with eastern Mediterranean nations, and that Greece was "continuing steps to escalate tensions" in the area "despite Turkey's well-intentioned approach".

The statement came on the heels of Turkey's announcement that it would send its research ship Oruc Reis back to a disputed area in the Mediterranean after the vessel returned to the country's shores in mid-September following a political standoff between Ankara and Athens, which escalated in August, when the Greek Foreign Ministry urged Turkey to immediately stop its "illegal" drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, warning that Athens will defend itself if necessary.

Turkish-Greek tensions over drilling in the eastern Mediterranean have been simmering for many months. The situation further deteriorated after Athens signed an agreement with Egypt on the delimitation of maritime zones to reassert its sovereignty claims.

Ankara, however, signed an agreement with similar provisions with Libya last year. Turkey also conducted operations near Cyprus, which the EU also considers to be a violation of international law.

© Sputnik

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