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Iran Press TV

EU says ties with Turkey at turning point

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 2:15 PM

The European Union (EU)'s top diplomat has warned that the bloc's relations with Turkey are at a "watershed moment in history," urging Ankara to defuse tensions with neighboring Greece over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, made the remarks in a speech he delivered to the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, warning that the EU-Turkey relations would "go to one side or the other, depending on what happens in the next days."

His comments come as Turkey and Greece, both of them NATO members, are at loggerheads over hydrocarbon resources and naval influence in the eastern Mediterranean.

For the past month, Turkey had been sailing a seismic research vessel and escorting warships through an area in the sea that is disputed by Athens to map out possible oil and gas drilling prospects. Greece had dispatched its own naval ships to monitor the Turkish vessels.

Member states of the EU, particularly France, have supported Greece in the dispute and threatened Ankara with sanctions.

On Sunday, Turkey returned its vessels to waters near the southern province of Antalya. The Turkish government said the research vessel had been returned for maintenance, but the move was seen as a stand-down. Athens had demanded that the vessels be withdrawn for any attempt at a peaceful resolution of the dispute to go ahead. Ankara had said formerly that while it was open to dialog, it would accept no preconditions.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Tuesday, Borrell pleaded with EU leaders for more dialog with Ankara, even though he acknowledged that "the situation has worsened."

EU leaders are set to meet next week to discuss Turkey.

"The time has come for our leaders to take difficult decisions" at an EU summit on September 24-25, Borrell said.

Relations with Turkey will be a main topic in an EU summit next week, with France supporting Greece on the possibility of slapping sanctions on Ankara.

Borrell said, however, that "there is not yet an agreement on sanctions."

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