Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias says the European Union should have shown more determination in taking decisions regarding Turkey, breaking ranks with Cyprus’ president who said he was fully satisfied with EC conclusions.
Dendias, who addressed the Greek Parliament during a session on the national budget, said the European Council “rejected Turkey’s tactics regarding the withdrawal of Oruc Reis on pretence” while adding the bloc “is now talking about the need for sustained de-escalation.”
The Greek minister made the comments on Sunday when he praised the United States and outgoing state secretary Mike Pompeo over his critical stance towards Ankara.
'Deciding against taking measures is sending a message of encouragement towards the non pro-European segment of Turkish society'
But Dendias did not hold back on his own criticism of the European Council Conclusions on the eastern Mediterranean last week, when EU leaders pushed back for later the possibility of harsh steps when the EU-Turkey statement would be up for renewal in March.
“If you want our opinion, we believe there should have been greater determination in taking decisions on Turkey,” Dendias said.
The conclusions did not include real sanctions against Ankara as requested by Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, a position also favoured by France, but they condemned Turkey’s recent actions in opening parts of Varosha, the divided island’s most famous ghost town abandoned and fenced-off since summer 1974.
A Turkish foreign ministry statement following the EC decisions praised some EU members for favouring dialogue and engagement with Turkey but also blamed lack of progress on “the narrow political calculations of a very few countries.”
“We reject the biased and illegal approach that had to be adopted with the EU Council Conclusions of 10 December 2020, in particular on Cyprus, Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and regional issues. In fact, we are aware that the majority of the EU does not embrace these conclusions which are adopted through solidarity and veto pressure,” the statement said.
During his speech, Dendias told members of parliament that his government “never claimed the Mitsotakis administration could simply dictate to the other 26 member states and they would simply obey,” adding the government would continue to call on sanctions against individuals and entities engaged in what he described as “illegal drilling” by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.
Dendias: appeasement wrong message for Turkey
The Greek foreign minister also went on to explain why Athens believed appeasement was the wrong message for Ankara.
“We explain to those who believe Turkey shouldn’t be lost, as they say, that deciding against taking measures is sending a message of encouragement towards the non pro-European segment of Turkish society,” he said, arguing that progressives inside Turkey feel “betrayed” by Europe.
Contrary to Dendias, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades expressed “absolute satisfaction” with the Conclusions last Friday, taking note of the willingness of some member states to insist on dialogue.
“Taking into account the stated position of a small number of member states, which without ignoring the systematic misconduct of Turkey, consider that diplomatic dialogue is the appropriate path, and not sectoral sanctions, I must say that I am fully satisfied with the European Council Conclusions on the Eastern Mediterranean,” Anastasiades said.
Earlier in the summer, the Cypriot government criticised EU partners over what it described as “a policy of appeasement” in dealing with Turkey.