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France calls for sanctions on Turkey over Eastern Mediterranean drilling

July 24, 2020 at 10:53 am

French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels, Belgium on 17 July 2020 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday called for sanctions to be placed on Turkey as a result of what he said were its violations of Greece and Cyprus’ maritime sovereignty in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“It is not acceptable for the maritime space of a Union member state to be violated or threatened. Those responsible must be sanctioned,” Macron said ahead of a meeting held in Paris with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades.

“In this part of the Mediterranean, which is vital for our two countries, energy and security issues are essential. What’s at stake is a power struggle in particular of Turkey and Russia which are asserting themselves more and more and in the face of which the EU is still doing too little,” Macron told reporters, adding that it “would be a serious mistake to leave our security in the Mediterranean in the hands of other actors. This is not an option for Europe and it is not something that France will let happen.”

“I stand fully behind Cyprus and Greece in the face of the Turkish violations of their sovereignty. It is unacceptable that the maritime space of (EU) member states be violated and threatened. Those who are doing that must be sanctioned,” he said.

READ: Turkey blocks Greek confinement bid in E. Mediterranean

The French president also said external parties who violate the UN embargo imposed on Libya by sending weapons there should be punished in another hint at Turkey.

The French president’s remarks came after Ankara’s announcement of its intention to begin oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, a disputed area with Greece and Cyprus. Late last year Turkey signed a maritime agreement with Libya which demarcated its maritime borders and gave it further rights over Mediterranean waters.

France and Turkey are supporting opposing side in the Libya conflict which sees the internationally recognised, Turkey backed, Government of National Accord (GNA) making advances against the France backed Libyan National Army (LNA)