Turkey hits out at ‘provocative’ Greece as tensions soar in the east Mediterranean

Turkey will make ‘no concessions’ over waters warns Erdogan

And Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also urged the European Union to be “fair and honest” in the face of criticism from Brussels – and the possible imposition of sanctions. Turkey – which hopes to join the EU – has been at odds with both Greece and Cyprus over the extent of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean and specifically the rights to offshore hydrocarbon resources.

Tensions escalated significantly in August when Turkey sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel, accompanied by several Turkish naval vessels, to waters claimed by Greece close to the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

The ship was sent back again in October but has since been withdrawn in a move welcomed by both NATO and Greece.

EU foreign ministers on Monday accused Turkey of failing to help end the dispute – although no decision on sanctions will be taken until Thursday’s EU summit, despite demands by the European Parliament to impose them.

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Mr Cavusoglu claimed Greece had continued “provocative” steps in spite of Turkey’s diplomatic efforts.

He added: “They need to be fair and honest here.

“If they also think strategically and with common sense, not just at the summit but always, and we achieve a positive atmosphere, we can improve our ties.

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“We can only solve our problems with dialogue and diplomacy.”

He added: “We want to improve our ties with the EU. We are not saying this because there is a summit or because there are sanctions and other things on the agenda.

“We always wanted to improve our ties on the basis of full membership.”

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Speaking yesterday, Stelios Petsas, deputy minister to the Prime Minister and government spokesman, used similar language in his assessment of Turkey.

He said: “The conclusion is now clear: Turkey had time to choose its path but wasted it on provocations.

“Turkey had the opportunity offered by both Greece and Europe and did not take advantage of it.

“It took the EU stance as a weakness and continued the provocations and the attempt for faits accomplis.”

He added: “Greece’s message was and is still clear. A country declaring that it wants to be a strategic partner of the EU can neither challenge the sovereignty and sovereign rights of EU member states nor violate European principles and values or undermine security and stability in the wider region.

“These facts can neither be ignored nor underestimated by anyone.

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