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EU approves sanctions on Turkey for gas drilling

European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, shown at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, Monday, announced upcoming sanctions against Turkey Friday. Photo by John Thys/EPA-EFE
European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, shown at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, Monday, announced upcoming sanctions against Turkey Friday. Photo by John Thys/EPA-EFE

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- European Union leaders agreed to impose sanctions against officials in Turkey and their entities for gas drilling off waters claimed by Cyprus, bringing a retort from Turkey and disappointment from Greece.

The EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell said the bloc will name those individuals and companies facing sanctions in the "next few weeks" while holding off on the possibility of harsher sanctions until they can consult with the incoming United States administration under President-elect Joe Biden.

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Greece and France pushed the EU for tougher action, saying it already agreed it would hit Turkey with sanctions if it didn't stop its actions. Turkey had been sending its Oruc Reis research vessel in Greek waters but removed it when Germany intervened.

Turkey immediately responded to the sanctions Friday.

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"We reject the prejudiced stance in violation of the law that had to be inserted in the Dec. 10 EU summit conclusions through the pressure of solidarity and vetoes on Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, as well as regional issues even though we know that a large part of the EU does not adopt these stances," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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On the other hand, Greek officials called the EU's announcement "lukewarm."

"Sanctions [against Turkey] are not an end in itself if Turkey insists on continuing with this provocative behavior," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. "Turkey is expected to change its ways and it has been understood that Europe is moving, if at its own pace, it is united, it supports Greece and Cyprus."

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