German officials coordinating with Nicosia, after the Republic of Cyprus told the foreign affairs council that it would use its veto power if sanctions against Belarus are not linked with those against Turkey, said that the prospect of sanctions against Turkey is a distant scenario.
The German officials said sanctions have no substantial effect. They are, as they said, a dead-end strategy, which instead of getting Turkey in line, intensifies its challenges and leads it to more extreme positions. Germany, after the meeting that took place in the German capital, when the exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey began in the summer, continues its initiatives through structured contacts with Nicosia to defuse the crisis, foreign diplomatic sources told Kathimerini Cyprus.
Germany and France were in full agreement on how to handle Nicosia's 'veto'. Beaune's statement calling on Nicosia to not link Belarus sanctions with Turkey is not a coincidence
Berlin has long made it clear through its stance that it wants a positive agenda towards Turkey. The fact that the two countries have economic relations that they not want to be disturbed undoubtedly plays a role. At least on the part of Germany. And Cyprus’ insistence for sanctions is constituting a disturbance. But beyond its interests that it wants to safeguard, Berlin’s position is that sanctions on individuals and companies have no substance beyond semiology and symbolism. As for the sectoral sanctions that Nicosia seeks, Berlin argues that they may have a long-term effect, but not in the present.
Germany also sent the message that many countries that have not expressed themselves publicly, are dissatisfied with the stance taken by Cyprus last Monday. What they note is that Nicosia should now focus on the resumption of Cyprus Problem negotiations immediately after the ‘elections’ in the occupied territories, as announced by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and should limit itself to the inclusion of some names in the sanctions list. The sanctions are expected to boost Turkish provocations, which could spill over into the negotiating table. It is no coincidence that Angela Merkel called Nicos Anastasiades prior to the foreign affairs council to propose her mediation for the departure of the Yavuz from the region. As Kathimerini Cyprus revealed, President Anastasiades had also requested the departure of Barbaros.
The Yavuz scenario
It is therefore not out of the question that the Yavuz’s departure (and perhaps even the departure of the Barbaros) will be considered a settlement, so that the Republic of Cyprus can approve the sanctions against Belarus without linking them to Turkey at next week's 27-nation summit. And then this departure will be able to be presented in the interior as a success of the ‘assertive’ position of Cyprus.
The French stance
The issue of a ‘veto’ at the 27th summit however appears to be becoming a distant scenario. And this, not only because Nicosia, according to Josep Borrell, is the only one that supports it, but also given the great pressure from other countries. It is no coincidence that there are reports in the international press that the credibility of the EU's foreign policy is at stake, following its ‘failure’ to approve sanctions against Belarus, but also reports linking Cyprus’ ‘veto’ with the good relations it maintains with Russia, which favors the Lukashenko regime.
What prompted many questions was the move by the French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune to call on Nicosia to stop linking the issue of sanctions against Belarus with those against Turkey. A move that provoked questions, given the formerly harsh statements of French President Emanuel Macron towards Turkey. "K" had previously reported that France was supporting the sanctions, trying to put pressure on Turkey in this way for French interests in Libya. In recent days, Paris has reportedly changed its narrative and sought a constructive dialogue with Turkey. According to diplomatic sources, Beaune's statement was in full coordination with Berlin, after France made it clear to Berlin that it agreed with its school of thought. As it is noted, Berlin asked France to make an official statement to get the Republic of Cyprus on board.
Nicosia appears to have not expected such a statement, with circles noting that Cyprus overestimated and even misinterpreted France’s support. However, apart from the French, everyone's attention is also focused on the differentiation of Greece’s position from that of Cyprus. The presidency clarifies that there are no disagreements between the two countries, but this is the first time that the two countries differ to such an extent. Greece supports not imposing sanctions at this time, but creating a list of potential sanctions in case Turkey intensifies its provocations. What Greece favors is to create deterrent sanctions and not a posteriori punitive ones. In Maximos Mansion, they estimate that a settlement from which everyone will emerge victorious, is the preferred one.
The faits accomplis
The question which remains unanswered in the face of the Berlin’s positions and a question which Nicosia insists on, is how Turkish provocations in the Cypriot EEZ will be handled and answered. Diplomatic circles note that the international community mobilized only when the tension between Greece and Turkey intensified, while the challenges in the Cypriot EEZ, went largely under the radar throughout this period. Diplomatic circles already believe that faits accomplis will be created in Famagusta before the ‘elections’ in the occupied territories. And this should be met with a strong reaction from the international community and especially from the EU, as this will determine, as Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said in an interview with "K", the framework for a solution to the Cyprus problem.