The European Union seems to be preparing a lukewarm response to Turkey’s multifaceted aggression over the past two months as indicated by a draft of the conclusions of Thursday’s leaders’ summit, which Greece insists must include tougher wording.
The draft conclusions, which were discussed on Wednesday at the level of permanent representatives, state that the leaders will ask their foreign ministers to prepare additional listings on the basis of a sanctions list already in place since 2019.
So far, restrictive measures have only been imposed on two members of Turkey’s state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). The draft said that “if need be, work on the extension” of the list’s scope could possibly include those involved in the seismic surveys by the Oruc Reis research vessel in areas where Greece reserves the right to extend its jurisdiction.
The draft also called on the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and the Commission to report on the state of EU-Turkey economic and political relations and prepare “options on how to proceed” for the next EU summit in March.
It further notes that the EU will seek to coordinate on these matters with the US, in what was seen as a reflection of hopes for closer foreign policy ties with Washington after US President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
The draft condemns Ankara’s “unilateral actions and provocations” and the escalation of its rhetoric against the EU, its member-states and their leaders. Additionally, it says that the European Council has noted the withdrawal of the Oruc Reis by Turkey and expects that this will be a lasting move that will allow the early resumption of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey.
What’s more, reference is made to the strategic interest of the EU in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. It said the offer of a positive EU-Turkey agenda remains on the table, if Turkey shows the desire to promote a genuine partnership with the bloc and its member-states and to resolve any disputes through dialogue and in accordance with international law.
Meanwhile Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of avoiding dialogue with Turkey and claimed that Greece was pursuing a policy based on lying. However, he left open the possibility of a dialogue with Athens.
“They are constantly trying to avoid sitting at the table,” he said, adding that “if Greece is honest, Turkey is open to talks.”