ReutersEU preparing to sanction Ankara as Merkel says bloc obliged to support Greece on Med issue
Turkey said it will hold a military exercise off northwest Cyprus for the next two weeks, amid growing tension with Greece over disputed claims to exploration rights in the east Mediterranean.
The long-running dispute between Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, flared after the two countries agreed rival accords on their maritime boundaries with Libya and Egypt, and Turkey sent a survey vessel into contested waters this month.
Both sides have held military exercises in the east Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the dispute over the extent of their continental shelves to escalate into confrontation.
Two weeks ago Greek and Turkish frigates shadowing Turkey's Oruç Reis oil and gas survey vessel collided, and Turkey's Defense Ministry said Turkish F-16 jets on Aug. 27 prevented six Greek F-16s entering an area where Turkey was operating.Greece ratifies deal with Egypt, Turkey to hold military drills in east Med
On Aug. 28 night Turkey issued a Navtex notice - an advisory message to mariners - saying it would be holding a "gunnery exercise" from Aug. 29 until Sept. 11 off northwest Cyprus.
The European Union's top diplomat said on Aug. 28 the bloc was preparing sanctions against Turkey that could be discussed at a summit in late September in response to Ankara's standoff with EU member Greece.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay criticised the possible measures, which could target individuals, ships or the use of European ports in an attempt to limit Ankara's exploration capabilities.
"It is insincere for the EU to call for dialogue on the one hand and make other plans on the other, regarding the activities we carry out in our own continental shelf in the east Mediterranean," he said on Twitter.