Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
The intense consultations between European Union member-states on the bloc’s response to Turkish aggression in recent months are expected to continue until the 11th hour before the start of Thursday’s crucial leaders summit.
What is becoming clear is that some measures against Ankara will indeed be included in the summit’s decisions. However, the nature of these measures remains extremely uncertain.
Greece and Cyprus, which have been on the receiving end of Turkey’s aggressive stance, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Slovakia, as well as Belgium, Ireland and Denmark are in favor of a tougher line. In addition, the Netherlands and the Baltic states also spoke in favor of sanctions at Monday’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council.
The biggest resistance to serious measures is being mounted by Germany, supported by Italy – which was very cautious on Monday – Spain and Malta, which would be affected by tough sanctions on Ankara as they are exposed to Turkey. Poland and Hungary would also be negatively affected by sanctions.
A first battle of those countries wanting tougher sanctions will be to ensure that the measures against Turkey will move beyond individuals involved in the seismic surveys conducted by Turkey’s Oruc Reis vessel in Greece’s continental shelf and include entities as well. This something that Athens is pursuing but is faced with Berlin’s resistance.
Athens will also insist on the issuing of a clear mandate to EU High Representative Josep Borrell to present a list of measures next month, including an embargo on arms and defense equipment sales to Turkey and cutting off EU pre-accession funding to Ankara.
What’s more, the Greek side is also seeking to suspend Turkey’s participation in EU projects.
However, a European diplomatic source told Kathimerini that the embargo proposal – an immediate priority for Athens – is not expected to receive widespread support at the summit.
Ankara sharpens rhetoric ahead of EU summit
After expressing good intentions and a willingness for talks last week, Ankara has sharpened its rhetoric over the past three days against Athens, Nicosia and Brussels.
Responding to an article by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias accusing Ankara of revisionism, the Turkish Foreign Ministry described Greece in a post on Twitter on Saturday as the “spoiled child” of Europe and accused it of “maximalist” claims in the Aegean, while adding that “no sanctions could make Turkey to give up its sovereign rights” in Kastellorizo.
On Monday, meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan called on the European Union to “give a chance to diplomacy.”
“We believe we can solve the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean by not excluding each other but by bringing all the actors together around the same table,” he said in a video message addressing a workshop at Akdeniz University in Antalya.
In the same message, however, he accused the European Union of “strategic blindness” and said it was allowing itself to be used as a “battering ram” by Greece and Cyprus.
Turkey, he said, would “not accept plans and maps that aim to confine us to the shores of Antalya.” It “will not give in to threats or blackmails and will not allow expansionism,” he said.
EU says Turkey’s actions worsen gas dispute ahead of summit
European Union foreign ministers said on Monday that Turkey had failed to help resolve a dispute over natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, but they left any decision on retaliatory sanctions for an EU summit on Thursday.
The 27 ministers, who were tasked to evaluate the grounds for economic sanctions on Ankara, did not go beyond agreeing Turkey had aggravated tensions since October, when EU leaders voiced a threat to impose punitive measures in December.
“Unhappily, we haven’t seen much progress or improvement since the last European Council,” the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters, referring to the October 1-2 summit, when EU leaders gave Ankara time to find a diplomatic solution.
“We have not seen a fundamental change of direction in Turkey’s behavior. On the contrary, in several aspects the situation has worsened,” said Borrell, who chaired the meeting.