Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said any sanctions imposed by the European Union on Turkey will not have a great impact, criticizing the bloc for acting dishonestly and failing to keep its promises.
“Any sanctions that may be imposed on Turkey do not much concern us. The EU has been imposing ‘sanctions’ on us since 1963. The EU has never acted honestly or stood by its word. But we have been and are being patient about it,” Erdoğan said in a speech before a two-day official visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
Erdoğan also noted during a news conference in Ankara that “honest leaders” in the EU were against sanctions on Turkey and that Ankara would continue to defend its rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
He also accused Athens of running away from talks with Ankara.
“On the eastern Mediterranean, we will continue to protect whatever our rights there are. It’s not possible for us to compromise. But if Greece really acts honestly as a neighbor, we will continue to be available at the table,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan’s remarks came prior to an EU summit on Thursday when EU leaders are to decide whether to impose sanctions over Turkey’s exploration of disputed waters in the Mediterranean.
The EU’s attempts to persuade Ankara to stop exploring waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus have failed. However, the bloc has so far refrained from imposing the sanctions that Athens and Nicosia are seeking.
“Time is running, and we are approaching a watershed moment in our relationship with Turkey,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in late November.
After withdrawing the Oruç Reis research ship for what it said was maintenance before a previous EU summit in October, Turkey redeployed it shortly afterwards, citing unsatisfactory results from the summit.
Referring to Turkey’s withdrawal of the vessel again last week, the chair of EU summits, Charles Michel, has warned the country not to play “cat and mouse.”
When asked about Turkey-US relations after Joe Biden assumes office as the 46th US president, Erdoğan said it’s too early to comment. “We will have a talk with Mr. Biden once he takes office,” the president said.
Since 2016, Ankara’s relations with Washington have deteriorated over several issues including Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system, differences in policy toward Syrian Kurds, an ongoing legal case that involves a state bank and high-ranking officials in a sanctions-busting scheme and the detention of US consulate employees and citizens in Turkey.