İrem UZUN -TDO- Greece has asked the European Union to examine the possibility of fully suspending its customs union with Turkey, as Athens launched a new diplomatic offensive against Turkey’s gas exploration in the Mediterranean.  In a letter to the European Commissioner for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias claimed that Turkey continues to unilaterally violate the EU-Turkey customs union by adopting tariffs, legislative and other equivalent measures not foreseen under the agreement.

In August, Turkey sent a gas exploration vessel to waters Greece claims south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo. The vessel spent nearly a month there before pulling out in early September.  In a statement last week, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the activity range was “fully within Turkish continental shelf”.  “It is unacceptable for there to be opposition against our country, which has the longest coastline to the Eastern Mediterranean, operating 15km from its mainland,” it said, emphasizing that Greek criticisms were “baseless accusations with no standing in international law”. “Our expectation from Greece is for it to withdraw its maximalist claims that are contrary to international law… put an end to its exercises and military activities that increase tensions in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and to enter into a sincere dialogue with us,” the ministry added.

Dendias said he had also asked his EU counterparts to halt the export of military equipment to Turkey “given that the equipment is being used in actions that destabilize their region”.  The minister did not name any specific countries, but Greek media reported the letters had been sent to the German, Spanish and Italian foreign ministers. 

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