Sanctions or dialogue and a positive political agency? The leaders of the European Union, meeting in an extraordinary European Council in Brussels, they continue this Thursday without agreeing on the recipe to improve their relations with Turkey and lower the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean caused by gas exploration. A thorny dossier that blocks another of important capital for the Twenty-seven: the imposition of sanctions on the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, re-elected president of the country in early August in a process not recognized by the EU, by the repression in Belarus.
Both issues are still on the table of European leaders at an extraordinary two-day summit dedicated to European foreign policy and in which the Upper Karabakh conflict, he poisoning of Alekséi Navalni and the relations with China (This Friday will be the debate on strategic autonomy and balance of the ‘Brexit’ negotiations). Although the Twenty-seven agreed in August to impose sanctions on Belarusian leaders implicated in the falsification of the August 9 presidential elections and subsequent acts of repression and violence, the veto of Cyprus it has so far prevented the decision from being made.
The government that runs Nikos Anastasiades agrees with the fund but refuses to act against Belarus as long as the Twenty-seven do not also sanction the Executive of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for gas prospecting in the eastern Mediterranean. Aware of the complication of reaching an agreement, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has chosen this Thursday to modify the agenda and raise the discussion on Turkey from the beginning. Its initial proposal for text of conclusions, however, has been rejected by Greece and Cyprus who have demanded stronger language demanding a stronger commitment from Ankara.
Mini Summit on the Summit
After a one-hour break and a multi-party mini-summit between Michel, the Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Cyprus and Greece, the President of the European Council has chosen to give way to the dinner and polish in parallel an alternative text that does not mention the sanctions, which would imply an Ankara slam, but reserves the option to use “all instruments and measures at its disposal “against Ankara to defend the interests of the Member States.
“Turkey must cease its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities and violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and Greece,” the Slovenian prime minister insisted during dinner. Janez Janša. “All differences must be resolved through dialogue and in accordance with international law” but “the EU has to use all available instruments to support Cyprus and Greece”, he added on the tone of the draft conclusions negotiated by the Twenty-seven.
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, has also defended dialogue and solidarity with European partners. “We show solidarity with Cyprus and Greece but obviously we have always bet on opening a constructive dialogue of strategic relationship that we need with Turkey.”