• By The Financial District


The European Union (EU) promised fresh sanctions against Turkey unless progress is made in its disputes with Cyprus and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Xinhua news agency reported late on August 29, 2020.

The EU's top diplomat, Joseph Borrell, said Friday in Berlin at a meeting of the EU foreign ministers that the bloc wanted to give "a serious chance to dialogue" but was firm in its support of member states Greece and Cyprus, which have raised concerns about a military standoff.

An ongoing dispute over maritime limits and gas drilling rights near the island of Cyprus has reignited tensions between Turkey and Greece, as the two neighbors have staged rival naval drills. The EU's sanctions could include individuals, ships, or access to European ports, meant to restrict Turkey's search for natural gas in contested waters.

Given the EU is Turkey's largest trading partner, Borrell stated that the EU could "go to measures related to sectoral activity...where the Turkish economy is related to the European economy," focusing on everything related to activities we consider illegal." Turkey, on the other hand, rejects the threats of more sanctions, claiming that Greece is not an archipelagic state, and thus it is illegal under international law to have a continental shelf. Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy asserted EU has no right to criticize Turkey's hydrocarbon activities within its continental shelf.