Just three days before the resumption of exploratory contacts between Athens and Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reminded Greece on Friday that in the event it extends its territorial waters in the Aegean it will be a cause for war, or casus belli.
Speaking to Turkish journalists at the end of his two-day visit to Brussels, Cavusoglu said that “Turkey’s position on the issue of the Aegean has not changed.”
“The decision taken by the Turkish parliament has not changed,” he said, referring to the 1995 declaration by the House that if Greece extends its territorial water to12 nautical miles, as it reserves the right to do so under international law, this would constitute a casus belli.
At the same time, the European Union appears to have softened its stance on the issue of sanctions against Turkey for its violations of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
This change in attitude has allowed member-states that were reluctant to impose new sanctions in the first place to put a freeze on such a move, as analysts note that Ankara’s recent charm offensive is paying dividends.
“We have seen a significant change of attitude on the part of Turkey, regarding Greece, Cyprus and other issues,” a European diplomat told Kathimerini. “Such changes have taken place in the past and have proven to be temporary, but this time it looks like something more substantial.”
The same source said sanctions will remain on the table as an option, but added that most member-states want to wait and see if Turkey’s new approach will last.
“Therefore there will be no decision on sanctions on Monday; now is not the time to speed up this process,” the European diplomat concluded.
Meanwhile, consultations of the Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors (RELEX), which convened last Thursday, over possible new sanctions against Turkey are ongoing.