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Southern EU leaders urge Turkey to end ‘unilateral’ actions in Mediterranean Sea, threaten sanctions

Leaders of seven southern European countries on Thursday urged Turkey to end “unilateral and illegal activities” in the eastern Mediterranean and resume dialogue to ease tensions in the region, the Associated Press reports.

Heads of states and government of France, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Spain and Portugal gathered in Corsica amid fears of open conflict as Turkey seeks to expand its energy resources and influence in the region.

In their final statement, leaders reaffirmed their “full support and solidarity with Cyprus and Greece” who they say are facing Turkey’s “confrontational actions.”

“We regret that Turkey has not responded to the repeated calls by the European Union to end its unilateral and illegal activities,” they said.

Leaders warned that “in absence of progress in engaging Turkey into a dialogue and unless it ends its unilateral activities, the EU is ready to develop a list of further restrictive measures” at a summit later this month.

They also called on resuming German mediation in the dispute. Russia also offered this week to mediate.

Greece and Turkey have deployed naval and air force units to assert competing claims over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkish survey vessels and drill ships continue to prospect for gas in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights.

France is carrying out military patrols in the region in a show of support for Greece and Cyprus, and the EU is mulling new sanctions against Turkey.

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