European Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday postponed without prior notice this week's EU leaders summit, where the bloc’s credibility is said to be on the line, saying he would isolate himself following a coronavirus scare.
The postponed meeting between EU leaders, which was to take place Thursday and Friday in Brussels, was expected to focus on Belarus sanctions but also relations with Turkey, including Nicosia calls for sanctions against Ankara over maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean.
EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned that a failure to agree on Belarus sanctions would raise credibility issues for the bloc.
"If we are not able to (approve Belarus sanctions), then our credibility is at stake," Borrell said.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides insisted that discussions on sanctions ought to move forward together against both Minsk and Ankara, citing a previous understanding
The Republic of Cyprus says Nicosia has not officially opposed sanctioning Belarus over Minsk’s presidential election, thought to be fraudulent, as well as allegations of human rights abuses against protesters.
But Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides insisted that discussions on sanctions ought to move forward together against both Belarus and Turkey, citing what he described as a previous understanding at EU-leadership level.
Michel, who visited Cyprus last week, along with Greece and Malta, decided to postpone the meeting at the last minute, with his spokesperson on Tuesday saying that the council president had learned that a security officer, with whom he was in contact early last week, tested positive for the coronavirus.
During his visit in the Republic of Cyprus, Michel said the gathering would provide a strategic dialogue on EU future actions concerning the eastern the Mediterranean, including Turkey.
Michel, who has thus far tested negative for the bug, has rescheduled the meeting for October 1 and 2.
According to the official agenda, EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss the single market, industrial policy and digital transformation, as well as external relations, in particular relations with Turkey and with China.
European Council President quarantined following coronavirus scare, buys time after postponing discussion on Belarus & Turkey with block's credibility on the line