No big steps are expected Monday as EU foreign ministers meet to evaluate possible sanctions against Turkey, laying the groundwork for a more substantive debate between EU leaders later in the week.
EU ministers are meeting Monday morning in Brussels to follow up on last year’s leaders summit that left the door open for possible sanctions against Turkey, after Ankara had been told to stop exploring for natural gas in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean or face consequences.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, an EU senior official stated that a preliminary discussion without any decisions would take place on Monday, while also pointing out there was no basis for a positive agenda to go forward.
'I’m not aware of any EU government challenging the view that the situation is worse than October and that leaders should consider the consequences'
“I’m not aware of any EU government challenging the view that the situation is worse than October and that leaders should consider the consequences,” the official said, adding that “we have been requesting a change that has not come.”
Brussels says Turkish vessels have continued to carry out exploration activities in waters contested by Greece and the Republic Cyprus, while also EU positions have hardened towards Turkey on a host of other issues.
Last week European Council President Charles Michel called Turkey out, asking Ankara to stop playing a “cat-and-mouse” game by offering concessions with words but reversing them with actions.
But Ankara fired back, accusing the Greeks last week of not showing up at a technical meeting at NATO headquarters, which had been designed to ease tensions in the region.
The Turks accused the Greek delegation of failing to attend the last meeting on November 30, with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar arguing Ankara was not the one who escalates tension in the region.
“Unfortunately, our neighbor stubbornly refrains from talks and meetings on the issue,” Akar said.
But Greece has maintained all along that formal talks with Turkey over maritime claims have been made impossible by Ankara’s actions, seen by Athens and Nicosia as “provocative” and “unlawful.”