Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has slammed a recent threat by the European Union to slap Ankara with sanctions as “hypocritical” as his country yesterday launched a new military drill off the coast of Cyprus amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Oktay’s comments came a day after Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the bloc was preparing to impose sanctions on Turkey – including tough economic measures – unless progress is made in reducing soaring tensions with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
“It is hypocritical for the European Union to call for dialogue and, simultaneously, make other plans regarding Turkey’s activities within our continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay said on Twitter.
“We are proficient in the language of peace and diplomacy, but do not hesitate to do the necessary thing when it comes to defending Turkey’s rights and interests. France and Greece know that better than anyone.”
The long-running dispute between Turkey and Greece, both Nato members, flared after both agreed to rival accords on their maritime boundaries with Libya and Egypt, and Turkey sent a survey vessel into contested waters this month.
The EU’s measures, meant to limit Turkey’s ability to explore for natural gas in contested waters, could include individuals, ships or the use of European ports, Borrell said.
Greece and Turkey are at odds over the rights to potential hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, based on conflicting claims about the extent of their continental shelves.