Turkey rejects sanctions but says ready for dialogue with EU
Turkey has rejected the “biased and illegal attitude” of the European Union and called on the block to act as an “honest mediator” in its dispute with EU members Greece and Greek Cyprus over the exploration of gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea after European leaders approved expanding sanctions against Ankara.
The sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union would damage both sides and benefit nobody, and that ties between them should not be sacrificed as a result, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec.11 addressing his party members.
Erdoğan called on U.S. and EU politicians to break from the influence of anti-Turkey lobbies, saying there were no problems that cannot be resolved with dialogue and cooperation.
“The summit held by the EU yesterday did not actually give the answer to the expectations of several countries. Because their demands were not justified,” Erdoğan told reporters on the same day.
In a written statement by the Foreign Ministry on Dec.11, Turkey rejected “the biased and unlawful attitude toward [North] Cyprus, eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and regional issues in particular, which we know that the majority of the EU does not adopt, but had to be put into the Dec. 10 EU Summit Conclusions due to solidarity and veto
The decision to expand sanctions against Turkey was approved out of solidarity with Greece and Greek Cyprus, the Foreign Ministry said and added that the two countries’ alleged misuse of solidarity and veto rights had thrust EU-Turkey ties into a “vicious circle.”
“The situation is harming the joint interests of Turkey and the EU as well as our region’s peace, security and stability,” the ministry said. “The EU should take up the role of an honest mediator, it must act in a principled, strategic and sensible manner,” it added.
“In this decision, the EU once again ignored the Turkish Cypriot people and their will, who are the co-owners of the Cyprus island,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın urged the EU for cooperation on regional issues.
“Turkey-EU relations should focus on political dialogue and cooperation agenda for issues such as the settlement of regional problems. Crises and challenges in our region can only be resolved through solidarity and cooperation,” Kalın said in a statement.
The EU leaders said on Dec. 11 that Turkey has “engaged in unilateral actions and provocations and escalated its rhetoric against the EU.” This was despite the fact that they had offered trade and other incentives to Turkey to halt its activities during their last summit in October, they said.
The leaders tasked EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell with drawing up a report on the state of EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations and to suggest how to proceed, including on widening sanctions. Borrell was asked to submit the report to the leaders by the time they hold a summit in March.
The declaration also condemned the opening of part of the city of Maraş, also known in Greek as Varosha, in North Cyprus and argued that U.N. Security Council resolutions should be respected. The 27 EU countries are split over how best to handle Turkey. France and Greek Cyprus have pushed for tougher measures like economic sanctions, but other countries are concerned about further undermining the country’s already ravaged economy and destabilizing the region.
Last year, the EU set up a system to impose travel bans and asset freezes on people, companies or organizations linked to contested drilling activities. Two Turkish Petroleum Corporation officials are already on the list, and the leaders say those sanctions should be broadened.