EU mulls ‘options broader than sanctions’ on Turkey

EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell will present a toolbox of “options” for Turkey which will be broader than sanctions, a senior EU official said in Brussels on Tuesday.

At an upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers in Berlin (27-28 August), Borrell will present options for the EU to deal with Turkey overall: from the illegal gas drillings in the Eastern Mediterranean to migration and Ankara’s involvement in Libya and Syria.

Sanctions against persons and legal entities will be part of the discussion. Athens has asked for sectorial sanctions hitting Turkish banks. But the executive’s proposed options “will be something broader than sanctions,” the official said.

The official emphasised that the EU has already cut a lot of EU pre-accession funds for Ankara and added that one member state has asked the full withdrawal of Turkey’s EU membership prospect.

No final decision is expected in Berlin but an in-depth discussion.

Turkey has sent seismic vessel Oruç Reis, accompanied by Turkish navy ships, into Greek territorial waters. The mission was supposed to end on 23 August, however, Ankara decided to extend it by an extra four days to Thursday.

The visits of German foreign minister Heiko Maas to Athens and Ankara on Tuesday did not bring tangible results.

Greece says Ankara is unreliable for dialogue while Turkey has hinted at military action. “Do not risk with exercises, with any step, this time there will be no accident, this time we will do what we have to do,” Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.

The EU official made it clear that any dialogue with Turkey will take place on one condition: that Ankara stops any illegal activity in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It seems that the EU-Turkey relations have reached an overall deadlock, as it was described by French MEP Nathalie Loiseau last month.

“My feeling is that for the time being, we do not have the same values as the Turkish regime […] The problem now is that we may not have the same interests when it comes to security,” she told EURACTIV.

How far the EU will go remains to be seen. An EU-Turkey deadlock may be just what Erdogan’s regime wants as a new narrative to sell at home.

(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)

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