EUROPEAN Foreign Ministers will discuss whether to act on their threats of sanctions against Turkey over Meditteranean territory disputes and other issues.
Turkey, a NATO member and EU candidate state, has angered European leaders for its gas exploration operations in waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Meditteranean. EU Ministers will meet on Monday to discuss slapping sanctions on Turkey, though the ultimate decision will rest on the European Council’s meeting on Thursday.
Turkey was warned in October that it would face consequences if it continued sending gas and drilling ships into disputed waters. Ankara has also been criticised by EU leaders for its involvement in conflicts in Syria and Libya, and for alleged authoritarianism in Recep Erdogan’s government.
‘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’ said an EU official. ‘We have requested a change that has not come’. Turkey has been accused of offering concessions then quickly reversing them, with EU Council President Charles Michel warning Ankara to stop its game of ‘cat and mouse’ diplomacy.
Turkey’s move to return a gas exploration vessel to Cypriot waters after agreeing to withdraw it was ‘not taken kindly by member states’ said a Brussels diplomat. Germany exercises the most power over the sanctions decision, as they currently hold the 6 month EU Presidency. According to an EU source, ‘there are limits even to German patience’, after Berlin attempted to mediate between Athens and Ankara to no avail.
Turkey has dismissed sanction threats are ‘unconstructive’, and President Erdogan has been accused of agreeing to talks without any interest in making meaningful concessions. The longtime Turkish leader has also faced allegations of authoritarianism due to harsh crackdowns on domestic opposition, as well as siding with Russia in murky Middle Eastern conflicts such as Syria and Libya.
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