Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan devalued today the possible sanctions that the European Union (EU) could impose on Turkey because of gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, in waters disputed by the Member States Greece and Cyprus.
Sanctions against Ankara will be one of the topics on the table at the summit of heads of state and government of the community bloc scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
“Any decision to impose sanctions will not be a major concern for Turkey,” said Erdogan, speaking to Turkish media before leaving for an official visit to Azerbaijan.
“The EU has imposed sanctions on Turkey since 1963. It has never behaved with honesty, it has never kept its words. We have been very patient, ”continued the Turkish head of state.
On Tuesday, Turkish diplomacy chief Mevlut Çavusoglu had asked the EU to be a “fair and honest” mediator in resolving disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said today that Turkey will continue to “protect its rights” in the Eastern Mediterranean, reiterating that Ankara is available to sit at the negotiating table with Greece if Athens “acts honorably”.
“I believe that it is possible to find a formula that is beneficial for everyone, that respects the rights of everyone,” the Turkish President had already said last Monday.
On November 30, Turkey announced that the ship Oruç Reis, a vessel that was carrying out exploration activities in an area potentially rich in hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean, was going to leave the area and return to a port.
Turkey classified this decision as a step towards resuming the dialogue, while Athens interpreted the Turkish measure as a maneuver to avoid sanctions by the community bloc.
Greece has asked for sanctions to be imposed on Turkey, but not all EU Member States are in agreement on this.
Several countries fear that an escalation of the mild confrontation Ankara will announce, once again, the opening of borders with Europe for the passage of migrants and refugees.
Athens has the support of several community partners, such as France and Austria.
Countries like Germany, Spain or Italy are clearly opposed to the idea of sanctions.
Ankara and Athens are two member states of NATO that have historically strained relations.
Before leaving for Azerbaijan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke about the threat of US sanctions against Turkey over the purchase of a Russian-made anti-aircraft defense system.
Erdogan described the American stance as “inappropriate”, saying that he hopes to discuss such an issue with President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
Turkey’s announcement of Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system in 2017 opened a crisis within NATO.
NATO said the Russian system posed a threat to the military alliance and endangered, in particular, the technical secrets of the American F-35 fighter plane program.