Greece: Turkey still risks EU sanctions over sea dispute

Greek and French vessels are observed sailing in formation during a joint military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, August 13, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 26 November 2020

Greece: Turkey still risks EU sanctions over sea dispute

  • Athens says ongoing Turkish offshore gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean has undermined efforts to restart talks on a longstanding sea boundary dispute
  • EU leaders have said they would consider sanctions at a December meeting ‘in case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law’

ATHENS, Greece: Greece said Thursday that neighbor Turkey has so far refused to take action requested by the European Union to avoid sanctions from the bloc.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said ongoing Turkish offshore gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean has undermined efforts to restart talks on a longstanding sea boundary dispute, which has escalated military tension between the two NATO members and regional rivals.
“Europe is not naive,” Petsas said Thursday. “Turkey received the opportunity and the time to change course. It chose not to do so.”
EU leaders on Dec. 10-11 will meet to discuss a range of issues, including external relations and the ongoing dispute between Turkey and EU member states Greece and Cyprus.
Athens says a warship-escorted survey ship that Turkey has sent into waters between the three countries is operating in areas where Greece has offshore exploitation rights. Greece sent its own naval vessels to monitor the Turkish ships’ movements. Cyprus is also angry with Turkish offshore prospecting and drilling in waters round the island where Nicosia claims exclusive economic rights.
Ankara says it has every right to engage in its activities.
On Oct. 1, EU leaders said they would consider sanctions at the December meeting “in case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law.”
Turkey argues that the EU has unfairly sided with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute. A senior aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with top EU officials in Brussels last week, maintaining that his government remained willing to restart talks with Greece.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.