Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
A game of “cat-and-mouse” between the European Union and Turkey needs to come to an end, European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday, in reference to a dispute over natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“The game of cat-and-mouse must end,” Michel told a news conference, as Turkey again withdrew an exploration vessel from disputed waters ahead of an EU summit on December 10 that is set to discuss possible sanctions on Turkey.
“In October, we defined a positive agenda, we reached out our hand,” said Michel, who chairs EU summits. “Turkey must stop its provocations, its hostile rhetoric,” he said.
The 27 EU leaders will assess Turkey's actions since October, Michel, said, highlighting the EU's preference for a more stable and predictable relationship with Turkey, noting however that "it takes two to tango."
"We need to enter into dialogue so that we can work together, to manage and solve crises and conflicts" he went on.
Turkish authorities on Friday issued a navigational for firing exercises in the Mediterranean, in an area between the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo.
The Navtex reserves the area for December 9 and 10, which will coincide with the European Council summit on December 10 and 11 during which possible sanctions against Ankara will be discussed.
Friday’s navigational telex came just hours after American lawmakers agreed on draft legislation that would compel the US administration to take sanctions against Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Potential sanctions include a ban on US banking and property transactions, the denial of US visas and forcing US lenders to deny loans to any sanctioned companies.
The 740-billion-dollar National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is expected to pass Congress this month and would force the White House to impose sanctions within 30 days of becoming law.
If passed within the next few days, the law would put the onus on outgoing US President Donald Trump, who has held off from punishing Ankara for its purchase of the controversial missile defense system, which NATO sees as a threat to the military alliance and one that potentially endangers the technical secrets of the F-35 aircraft.
According to the Financial Times, Trump has threatened to veto the annual defense spending legislation, but he will face pressure to sign it because it funds the salaries of military personnel.
Under the bill, Turkey is at risk of at least five sanctions for making what the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) defines as a “significant transaction” with Russia for the $2.5 billion purchase of the S-400.