EU leaders to discuss Turkey at December summit: Merkel

EU leaders to discuss Turkey at December summit: Merkel

BERLIN- Anadolu Agency
EU leaders to discuss Turkey at December summit: Merkel

European leaders will discuss the future of EU-Turkey relations at their summit in December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Nov. 19. 

Speaking at a press conference following a video conference of EU leaders, Merkel said the meeting was largely focused on the coronavirus pandemic and disagreements over the EU budget.

When asked by a reporter about recent tensions between Turkey and EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, Merkel said they would like to see developments in the next couple of weeks before discussing any potential sanctions.

“We agreed earlier to discuss the issue of Turkey at our next summit on Dec. 10,” Merkel said.

“Of course, we should observe developments in the meantime and make a decision afterwards. One cannot say anything at this point.”

The chancellor said most recent developments were not like what they have wished to see in the region.

Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration are pushing for sanctions against Turkey over maritime disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean, but the majority of EU members have been reluctant so far to take such action.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the region, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriots and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara has sent several drillships in the past weeks to explore for energy, asserting its own rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly said that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, dialogue and negotiations.

EU official says Turkey relations at ‘watershed moment’ 

The relationship between the EU and Turkey is “approaching a watershed moment” and is further deteriorating, according to a statement from the EU foreign policy chief on Nov. 19. 

Josep Borrell spoke at an EU Foreign Ministers meeting and noted solidarity with Greece and Greek Cypriot administration and said “the recent actions and a statement by Turkey related to Cyprus, were considered contrary to United Nations resolutions and further igniting tensions.”

“We consider also that it is important that Turkey understands that its behavior is widening its separation from the EU. Sorry to say that, but that's what the Foreign Affairs ministers consider it. In order to return to a positive agenda, as we wish, we will require a fundamental change of the attitude on the Turkish side,” said Borrell.

“European Council will provide crucial direction on this, next month. Time is running, and we are approaching a watershed moment in our relationship with Turkey,” he added.

Borrell said he is working on preparations for an Eastern Mediterranean conference and decisions to be made at a EU leaders summit in December will depend on Turkey’s behavior.

The opening of abandoned Varosha in Gazimagusa, also known as Famagusta, is considered a negative step by EU foreign ministers, said Borrell.