The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said, according to the Associated Press, that Greece wants its European Union partners to prepare "crippling economic sanctions” to be used against neighboring Turkey if it goes ahead with offshore gas and oil exploration off the Greek islands.
Relations between the two historic regional rivals and troubled NATO allies have deteriorated rapidly in recent months, with differences including undersea drilling rights, illegal immigration flows and Turkey's decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a museum to a mosque.
Nikos Dendias said in an interview that he had informed his colleagues in the European Union that if Ankara went ahead with its plans to explore Crete, Rhodes and Karpathos, the Union must respond with an advance list of severe sanctions.
"The European Union is Turkey's largest trading partner, if it wants, it can create a big problem for the Turkish economy, this is not my desire, but we must be clear," Dendias said.
Greece says it has exclusive rights to the regions targeted by Turkey, which are located on Crete away from the Turkish coast.
Nikos Dendias added that if Greece was attacked by its neighbor, it would protest part of the 2009 Treaty on the European Union, which obliges member states to provide assistance to another European Union country facing armed aggression.