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Athens seeking tougher EU sanctions against Turkey, says deputy FM

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Greece is calling on the European Commission to present “different options” on how Turkey can be sanctioned for violating Greek and Cypriot sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean beyond punishing oil company officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Militiadis Varvitsiotis has told Politico.

“We are saying two things: what we witness is not the fault of a person or a company, it is the outcome of the behavior of a state. Sanctions should be directed at the state, and what we expect from Mr Borrell is to present different options on how these sanctions may be exercised,” the Greek official told Politico’s Playbook, referring to the Europe Union’s high commissioner for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell.

Varvitsiotis’ comments came ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in which Turkey will be discussed amid a spike in tensions with Greece and Cyprus over energy prospecting rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

They also coincide with a visit to Athens and Ankara by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as part of efforts by Berlin to defuse tensions between Greece and Turkey.

For these efforts to yield results, Varvitsiotis told Politico, “there is the need to sign with Turkey first of all an agreement that we are ready to address this matter to the International Court of Justice.

“The other thing to get there is to lift all the military tension in the region, which is counterproductive because you cannot negotiate under the threat of the use of arms,” Varvitsiotis added.