European leaders in Brussels were able to break a deadlock on Belarus sanctions in the wee hours at the Special Council Meeting, after Nicosia accepted a third draft warning Turkey to remain positive to avoid sanctions.
After hours of marathon talks on Thursday night and early Friday morning, EU27 leaders appeared to agree on moving forward with sanctions against Belarus after Nicosia accepted a finalized text regarding EU relations with Turkey.
Following tough negotiations on the text, with Cyrpus getting support from Greece but also France and Austria according to reports, it emerged that the EU could impose sanctions on Ankara if Turkish “provocations and pressures” continue in the eastern Mediterranean.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who broke the news on Friday after the bloc’s leaders met for nine hours, told après conference that the EU27 wanted a “positive” relationship with Turkey.
A day earlier, Athens and Nicosia rejected a first draft that circulated at 6pm, with the Greek side requesting several modifications so that the text would 'more fully reflect Greek positions'
“We want a positive and constructive relationship with Turkey, and this would be also be very much in Ankara’s interest,” she said.
“But it will only work if the provocations and pressures stop. We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions. In case of such renewed actions by Ankara the EU will use all its instruments and options available,” she added.
The draft that European leaders appeared to support was the third installment, after changes were made and references removed from two previous texts, with Nicosia and allies insisting on a tough language towards Turkey.
A day earlier, according to Kathimerini Greece, Athens and Nicosia rejected a first draft that circulated at 6pm local time, with the Greek side requesting several modifications so that the text would “more fully reflect Greek positions,” a government source said.
Speaking on state broadcaster ERT1, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that Athens had rejected the draft because “it was not balanced.”
While Nicosia did not get the bloc to impose sanctions on Ankara, a move Greek Cypriots argued would be consistent with sanctions against Belarus, the EU27 agreed to leave “all options on the table” until further discussion on Turkey in December.