France warns Turkey of EU sanctions over 'provocations'

Turkish police officer patrols the dock backdropped by the drilling ship'Yavuz scheduled to be dispatched to the Mediterranean at the port of Dilovasi outside Istanbul

He also said that Turkey "acted unilaterally" in reopening the Varosha coastal strip in Cyprus.

The statement came on the heels of Turkey's announcement that it would send its research ship Oruc Reis back to a disputed Mediterranean area after the vessel returned to the country's shores in mid-September following a political standoff between Ankara and Athens.

The warning followed the Greek Foreign Ministry slamming Ankara's move last week to restart its gas exploration activities in the Mediterranean as a "major escalation", which the ministry said endangers regional security.

Two weeks after their last summit where leaders discussed economic sanctions, the European Union has so far failed to persuade Ankara to stop exploring in waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus.

Given Berlin's efforts to mediate between the parties "the behavior by Turkey to conduct another provocation, resulting in the already agreed process of dialogue not taking place, is more than annoying, including for us in our role as intermediary", Maas said.

Maas said he continues to believe the conflict can be solved through dialogue and not with naval ships, and stressed Germany's hope that there might be progress next week.

According to him, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will raise the issue of sanctions against Turkey at the upcoming Summit on October 15, 16.

Varosha remained off-limits and in Turkish military control after its Greek Cypriot residents fled before advancing troops in 1974 when Turkey invaded and sliced the island along ethnic lines following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

State TV ERT said the plane carrying Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was forced to circle for 20 minutes late Wednesday near the Iraqi city of Mosul before being allowed passage by Turkish aviation authorities.

The Turkish official continued: "When the plane carrying Minister Dendias broke down in Iraq, Greece sent another plane and asked Turkey for authorisation to use its airspace, and we granted the second plane permission without delay".

Aksoy suggested that the plane in question had taken off from Iraq without submitting a flight plan, explaining that flight plans are reported via the Eurocontrol system.

As government spokesman Stelios Petsas said in Athens earlier in the day, "Twice now in a short space of time, Ankara has reneged on its commitments".



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