PARIS, October 15 (Reuters) – France and Germany on Thursday accused Turkey of continuing to provoke the European Union with its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and gave it a week to clarify its positions.
Despite an agreement at the EU summit on October 2 to persuade Ankara to stop exploring for natural gas in waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus, Turkey said on Wednesday it was resuming operations of a vessel from surveillance.
Turkey withdrew the ship last month, just before the EU summit, where economic sanctions were discussed, to redeploy it on Monday.
The bloc said it would examine the possibility of sanctions against Turkey at a European summit in December.
“It is clear to us that Turkey is constantly carrying out acts of provocation which are unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a press conference alongside his German and Polish counterparts.
He said the ball was in Ankara’s court, but the European Union was ready to change the balance of power if Turkey did not return to dialogue.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Turkey’s decision to return the ship to the Mediterranean was “inadmissible”.
Asked about the possibility of proposing EU sanctions, he said the bloc would wait a week to decide how to react.
“It’s been two times that the expected talks have not taken place and we don’t know when they will take place,” he said. “We have to wait and see if there is progress in a week, then we will see what attitude the EU needs to take.”
Le Drian criticized Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, where it supports Azerbaijan against ethnic Armenians.
“There will be no military victory on this issue, so the ceasefire must be implemented,” he said. “What we can see today is the only country that does not call for respect for the ceasefire, it is Turkey and it is damaging.” (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Giles Elgood)