EU Med leaders threaten Turkey with sanctions for 'unilateral' actions in Mediterranean

EU Med leaders threaten Turkey with sanctions for 'unilateral' actions in Mediterranean

The armed forces will obtain new anti-tank weapons, new torpedoes and new guided missiles, as well as hire 15,000 more people over the next five years, he said.

The programme, which includes upgrades of the existing four frigates, is also designed to create thousands of jobs, he said.

More details on the cost of the programme and origin of the weapons purchases will be announced at a news conference Sunday, a government source told AFP.

Turkey - the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean - has sent out drill ships such as the Oruc Reis to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have energy rights in the region. Two former Greek defence ministers were subsequently jailed as a result of the probes.

In a speech Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that French President Emmanuel Macron was targeting him.

The EU has said it stands in "full support and solidarity" with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute while Athens and Nicosia have called on the bloc to sanction Turkey.

Mitsotakis has previously said NATO's "hands-off approach" in not taking sides in the dispute was "profoundly unfair".

"To reduce the tension, it is essential that Greece withdraw its military ships around our Oruc Reis research ship, support NATO's disintegration initiative, stop arming the Eastern Aegean islands including Meis, and put an end to the increasing pressure on the Western Thrace Turkish Minority", the statement added.

Pompeo's "visit at a time when crucial developments are taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean, due to Turkey's illegal actions, aptly demonstrates the honest concern and interest of the U.S. in preserving stability in our region", he said.

Greece responded by shadowing the Turkish flotilla with its warships, and by staging naval exercises with several European Union allies and the United Arab Emirates in its show of force.

"We do need dialogue, but not when held at gunpoint", Mitsotakis wrote. "We can not accept them".

Analysts saw the decision as a direct response to Athens' move to sign a deal with Egypt agreeing their respective exclusive rights for hydrocarbon exploration in areas of the Mediterranean claimed by Turkey.

The EU will address the issue at a summit on September 24-25.

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