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Iran Press TV

Turkey's president downplays EU sanctions threat

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 09 December 2020 7:08 PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has downplayed any economic sanctions the European Union might impose on Ankara over the dispute in the eastern Mediterranean.

"The EU has never acted honestly, it has never kept its promises (towards Turkey). But... we have always been patient. We are still being patient," Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday ahead of a visit to Azerbaijan.

"Any sanctions decision that can be taken against Turkey do not concern us much."

His remarks come a day before a European Union summit that could impose sanctions on Turkey over the row.

Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, have been embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean over the region's natural resources.

In August, Turkey dispatched a seismic research vessel and warships escorting it to prospect for energy resources in the disputed waters, infuriating Greece and creating a weeks-long diplomatic crisis.

In September, the Turkish vessel, Oruc Reis, which has been at the heart of the standoff returned to a port in southern Turkey.

However, the ship went back to sea and resumed its mapping duties in the disputed waters after an October EU summit ended with unsatisfactory results.

In late November, Turkey decided to once again return home its seismic research vessel from the disputed waters in a move that calmed the tensions, but the EU says Ankara's drill and survey ships have continued to work in contested waters elsewhere. Greece says that makes formal talks with Turkey over the issue impossible.

France and the European Parliament have called for imposing sanctions on Turkey.

Erdogan on Wednesday reiterated his country's willingness to solve the row through negotiations.

"On the eastern Mediterranean, we will continue to protect whatever our rights there are," he said, adding "It is never possible for us to compromise here. But if Greece really acts honestly as a neighbor, we will continue to be available at the table."

'EU sanctions will be counterproductive'

Also on Wednesday, the Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, described the EU's draft statement regarding the imposition of sanctions on Turkey as disappointing, noting that the EU was "surrendering" to the interests of some of its members.

Speaking via video conference in a German Marshall Fund of the United States event, Kalin stressed that the measures will not work and will be counterproductive in the long run.

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