Erdogan says willing to meet with Greek PM over east Med tensions

GREECE-TURKEY-DIPLOMACY-ARMY

GREECE-TURKEY-DIPLOMACY-ARMY

Brussels must be ready to activate all its tools including sanctions against Turkey, in response to Ankara's aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean, France's visiting Europe Minister Clément Beaune said Friday.

Turkey has two exploration vessels off the divided island of Cyprus, which has always been at odds with Ankara over oil and gas drilling.

Erdogan said he was ready to discuss the issue with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in person or via video conference. "But what we discuss and under which framework, that's what is important".

"We can meet if there is goodwill".

"We Europeans need to be clear and firm with the government of President Erdogan which today is behaving in an unacceptable manner", said Macron, adding that the EU "must be tough with the Turkish government and not with the Turkish people, who deserve more than the Erdogan government".

Greek newspaper headline written in Turkish - Siktir git, Mr. Erdogan, which can be translated as "I went to ..., Mr. Erdogan".

On Friday, France appeared to support Cyprus's demand that the bloc also considers sanctions over Turkish oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

"A Greek newspaper had a vile front page", Cavusoglu said in Ankara.

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Last weekend, Ankara pulled the vessel back to the shore for maintenance and replenishment after its one-month mission.

Erdogan also signalled that Oruc Reis would return to its work, while also saying that its withdrawal was deliberate.

However, he stressed that Turkey's seismic activities in the disputed waters would not stop indefinitely, noting that Oruc Reis would resume normal operations once it undergoes necessary maintenance, which is expected to be completed in a few weeks.

After meeting Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, Βeaune said his country fully supports Nicosia which is calling for tougher European Union action if Turkey refuses to enter into a dialogue.

The lawmakers urged Greece and Turkey, both North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members, to withdraw their military forces from the area and to find a solution through dialogue, diplomacy and negotiations.

On Tuesday, Turkey extended its search for oil and gas inside Cyprus' exclusive economic zone through mid-October.

A Greek-Turkish naval standoff began last month when Turkish research and drill ships began searching for energy reserves in waters where Greece and ethnically divided Cyprus claim exclusive rights.

"We would like our partners and friends in the European Union to draft a list of sanctions which should not be imposed on Turkey immediately but rather serve as an example of sanctions that could be imposed on Turkey if it doesn't stop its unlawful acts", Dendias said.

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