Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

EU makes case for Turkey sanctions

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (r) (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU states have set the scene for imposing sanctions on Turkey at this week's summit.

"In several aspects, the situation has worsened," EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told press after meeting EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday (7 December).

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"Not only Greece and Cyprus, but all member states were very much aware of the need to assess carefully the situation with Turkey and, as I said, unhappily, we haven't seen much progress," he said.

Germany had tried to make peace with Turkey, but "there have been too many provocations, and tensions between Turkey, Cyprus, and Greece," German foreign minister Heiko Maas added.

Turkey had "continued its delinquent behaviour," the Greek foreign minister, Nikos Dendias, also said.

"It was made clear that there should be a response to Turkey ... That is what will be discussed at the Council meeting of leaders", Dendias said, referring to the EU summit on Thursday.

The "situation" has seen Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan send his gas-drilling ship, the Oruç Reis, back and forth into Cypriot and Greek-claimed waters.

He recently flouted UN accords by visiting a beach in no man's land in the Turkish-Cypriot conflict.

He has also hurled insults at French president Emmanuel Macron over Islamism and continued his crackdown on domestic opponents.

It remains to be seen if Germany would back an arms embargo, which could disrupt its sales of submarines to Turkey.

An embargo could also disrupt Spain's sales of components for a new Turkish warship.

The EU summit comes amid US threats to sanction Erdoğan for buying a Russian air-defence system.

And EU leaders will have to take into consideration Turkey's value as a Nato ally when they make their decision later this week.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan himself spoke of EU relations in what were, by his standards, mild-mannered words on Monday.

"We are not after exploiting the rights of anyone but try to take a firm stance against pirates that try to take our rights away," he said about the maritime disputes at an 'Eastern Mediterranean Workshop' event in Turkey, according to the Reuters news agency.

"We can solve the problems of the eastern Mediterranean not by excluding each other, but by bringing all the actors together around the same table," he added.

His foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, called Cyprus and Greece "spoiled" during a university panel event in Turkey also on Monday.

"These decisions, [EU] sanctions or whatever else, will not contribute to the solution of issues," Çavuşoğlu said.

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