Greece accuses Turkey of exploiting Russian EU food ban

A Turkish decision to “fill the gap” created by Russia’s ban on EU food exports has provoked strong words from Athens, which blames Ankara for participating à la carte in European policy. EurActiv Greece reports.

Russia President Vladimir Putin last week banned fruit and vegetable imports from the EU – and all food imports from the US – in retaliation for Western sanctions against Moscow.

The move was considered a huge blow to Greek farmers, as 41% of Greek exports to Russia concern agricultural products. 

Ankara reacted to the ban by extending an olive branch to Moscow. The Turkish finance minister, Nihat Zeybekci, said that the ongoing crisis between Russia and the West was an “opportunity” for Ankara.

“Amid a deadlock among Russia, Ukraine, EU and USA [...] we will approach even more Russia”, he said, adding that Ankara would draw a comparative advantage from the Russian embargo. 

The Greek foreign ministry issued a statement on Saturday (9 August) saying that Greek farmers would be compensated for losses incurred by Russian sanctions, hinting simultaneously that Turkey, an associate member of the EU, was complying selectively with European policy.

“The EU and Euroatlantic partners also need to make the speedy realization that we cannot have countries that are candidates for accession to the EU – countries that are in fact members of the Alliance – participating a la carte in European policy and benefitting from the cost being paid by the member states”, it said.

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