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The European Council extends a hand to Ankara, while remaining firm in case of refusal



           


Charles Michel wants to maintain dialogue with Recep Tayyip Erdogan - here the two men meeting in March 2020 - but threatens sanctions (photo: European Council)
Charles Michel wants to maintain dialogue with Recep Tayyip Erdogan - here the two men meeting in March 2020 - but threatens sanctions (photo: European Council)
EU / TURKEY. Following the special meeting of the European Council (1 and 2 October 2020), Charles Michel, its President, announced on Friday 2 October 2020 on Twitter that he wanted to "give political dialogue a chance" in the context of the disputes between the European Union and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean over hydrocarbon exploration.

The Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their "full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, whose sovereignty and sovereign rights must be respected," a press release said. The text underlines that "a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the establishment of cooperative and mutually beneficial relations with Turkey are in the EU's strategic interest".

"We have agreed on a two-track approach for Turkey", says Charles Michel. The EU has decided to improve certain forms of cooperation with Ankara, such as the relaunch of the customs union, on condition that Turkey stops illegal drilling in the waters of Cyprus, a European country supported by its peers.

A multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean?

The second way is the threat of sanctions. "In the event of new provocations, we will use all the instruments at our disposal," warns Charles Michel. European leaders will now observe Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reaction to this extended hand. They will judge by the end of 2020 - in December a new European Council will take place - "whether there have been positive developments", stresses the president of the Council. They are calling for a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish President had also called for a regional conference to be held on 22 September 2020 to settle territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The day before, Thursday 1 October 2020, the Turkish President said he wanted to "keep the channels of dialogue open" with the EU. He also reached an agreement the same day in NATO with Greece on a mechanism to avoid conflicts. On Friday 2 October 2020, reacting to Charles Michel's remarks, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, however pointed out that "the continued use of a sanctions discourse is not constructive (...) the EU must understand that it cannot achieve anything in this way".

 


Frédéric Dubessy


Friday, October 2nd 2020



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