The “Turkey issue” is far from clear as EU leaders prepare to meet on Thursday, with Ankara accusing Athens of taking a provocative stance and Paris laying it all out before the Union could resume talks with NATO’s eastern flank member.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, four scenarios seem to be on the table regarding Turkey, as EU leaders prepare to meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to assess the latest developments in regard to Turkey’s actions in the region. The meeting will follow a Monday meeting when foreign ministers took stock of latest developments in the region.
Four scenarios emerged according to Kathimerini’s Marina Economides, who outlined on Wednesday options including sanctions against Turkey, ruling out sanctions altogether, pushing conditional sanctions yet further down the line, or calling for a special council meeting in February.
Economides, who pointed out December 10 was also a crucial deadline for EU leaders to determine whether Turkey heeded calls to reduce tensions in the region, said a special council meeting later on was more likely, citing diplomatic sources.
France lays it out for Turkey
The developments came as France, a vocal critic against Turkey, laid it out for Ankara, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian having a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart on Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, Le Drian told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that a renewed constructive relationship with the European Union could only happen if Ankara clarified its position on several subjects.
An official statement from Paris said the French minister had a phone conversation with Cavusoglu, where he reminded the Turkish minister of “French and European requirements for clarifications, which are a necessary condition for the resumption of a constructive relationship between Turkey and the European Union."
Ankara points finger at the Greeks
Cavusoglu, who has been arguing that Turkey was ready for diplomatic talks, had earlier accused Greece of continued “provocations” and of preventing progress in relations.
The Turkish minister, who called on EU leaders this week to use "common sense," accused Greece of not taking part in scheduled NATO-brokered efforts to develop a deconfliction mechanism in the Eastern Mediterranean, despite Ankara’s “well-intentioned steps” and desire for dialogue.
Four emerging scenarios include sanctions against Turkey, ruling out sanctions altogether, pushing conditional sanctions yet further down the line, or calling for a special council meeting in February
“The Greeks said that they would do not sit down for talks as long as the Oruc Reis remained in the area. But the ship has been withdrawn to Antalya, and they still find excuses,” the Turkish minister said.
Cavusoglu went on to accuse the Greeks and Greek Cypriots of provocations during a time when “the EU could have brought us both to the table,” adding that “this did not happen unfortunately.”
According to a government statement in Nicosia, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to brief his EU counterparts about Turkey’s actions in the fenced-off ghost town of Varosha as well as ongoing Turkish actions in waters off the Republic of Cyprus, both actions deemed illegal and provocative by Greeks and Greek Cypriots.
Turkey is on the agenda officially under the External Relations part of the discussion, where conclusions from October will be revisited in regards to the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey.
Some political observers including Kathimerini’s Apostolos Tomaras pointed out the latest diplomatic developments, saying it would be difficult if not impossible for tough sanctions to take place, citing positions by Germany and other states that might reject Greece’s call for an arms embargo on Turkey.