Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that Athens urged the country’s European Union (EU) allies to prepare “crippling sanctions” against Turkey in case the latter proceeds with oil drilling near Greek waters in the Aegean.
“The European Union is Turkey’s biggest trading partner,” Dendias told private Star TV on July 14. ”If it wants, it can create a huge problem for the Turkish economy. That’s not my wish … but we must be clear.”
Greek foreign minister’s harsh statement follows increasingly tense relations between the two countries about Ankara allowing refugees to cross the border, drilling around Crete, Rhodes and Karpathos and lastly the conversion of the ancient Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
While Greece claims that Ankara doesn’t have any rights to the waters where they’ve operated in, the Turkish government maintains that its presence is justified through its affiliation with the Libyan government.
However, the treaty that Ankara justifies their activity under in fact doesn’t include Rhodes or Crete.
The foreign minister also said that Athens would invoke a section of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon if it came under attack from Turkey, which would rally the military support of EU countries behind Greece.
Hours after Dendias’ statement, Greek Cryprus news outlet RIK reported that Turkey was continuing its drilling operation to the southwest of Cyprus.
High Representative of the EU Josep Borrell had hinted on July 12 that the organization could be preparing for additional sanctions against Turkey.