France, MEPs push for sanctions on Turkey next month

File photo. People hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against caricatures of Prophet Muhammad published in French magazine Charlie Hebdo and against France President Macron, in Istanbul, Turkey, 13 September 2020. [Erdem Sahin/EPA/EFE]

France is leading a push for European Union sanctions on Turkey at the 10-11 December summit to follow through on a threat made by the bloc in October, but has yet to win support from all EU governments, officials and diplomats said.

Paris says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not heeded EU leaders’ warnings on 1 October to back down in a dispute over gas exploration in the Mediterranean or face consequences.

EU leaders unblock Belarus sanctions, issue 'carrot and stick' warning to Turkey

After weeks of bickering, EU leaders broke a longstanding deadlock to impose sanctions against members of the Belarus regime on Friday night (2 October) and fired a warning at Turkey over its gas drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

The European Parliament on Thursday is expected to call for sanctions, decrying Erdoğan’s visit earlier this month to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island of Cyprus.

“Turkey knows what it needs to do,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French parliamentary hearing this week. “Confrontation or collaboration, it’s up to them.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has criticised the EU for discussing sanctions, saying such debate was not helpful.

No detailed sanctions have been drawn up by France, but diplomats say any measures would hit areas of Turkey’s economy aimed at limiting Turkish hydrocarbon exploration, likely in shipping, banking and energy.

Also at stake are a plan to broaden Turkey’s trade preferences with the EU, its top trading partner, and its formal status a candidate to join the EU, which Austria says should end. Erdoğan has called for a boycott of French goods, which one EU diplomat said did not bode well for deeper trade relations.

Turkey calls for France boycott as Islamic world backlash grows

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday (26 October) joined calls for a boycott of French goods, ramping up a standoff between France and Muslim countries over Islam and freedom of speech.

“However, Turkey is a key partner in many areas, so there’s no consensus in the Council (of EU governments). It is still too early,” said another EU diplomat.

France is also at odds with Turkey over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Paris has accused Ankara of fuelling the crisis in the Caucusus, a charge it rejects.

Macron criticises Turkey's 'warlike' rhetoric on Nagorno-Karabakh

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday (30 August) Turkey’s “warlike” rhetoric was encouraging Azerbaijan to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh and that was unacceptable, though he added that he had no proof at this stage of direct Turkish involvement.
Fierce fighting broke out …

Turkey, a member of NATO, has slid towards authoritarianism, undermining EU priorities in Syria and Libya, but remains a strategically located partner that the EU cannot ignore.

Support for any sanctions lie with Germany, which holds the EU’s six-month presidency. Berlin put its hopes in mediating between Greece and Turkey but was angered when Ankara, which withdrew an exploration vessel before EU leaders met in October, began exploring for gas off Cyprus again last month.

“Erdoğan really went too far with the Germans,” a senior French official told Reuters. “They didn’t take at all well the new ship going back to the eastern Mediterranean just after the Oct. 1 summit.”

A new spat between Germany and Turkey over the interception of a Turkish vessel in the Mediterranean this week has worsened already deteriorating EU-Turkey ties. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the boarding was an act of “piracy” and summoned EU, German and Italian envoys to protest, which Berlin said was unjustified.

Germany says Turkey stopped it checking ship for arms-running to Libya

**Updated with Turkey’s comments

Turkey prevented German forces belonging to an EU military mission carrying out a full search of a Turkish cargo ship that they suspected of taking weapons to Libya, both countries confirmed on Monday (23 November).

Soldiers from the …

“I think now there’s a common understanding that there will be sanctions,” said a senior EU diplomat. “The question is what the market will bear.”

Source: Erdogan will back down at first sign of EU unity

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will step back from his aggressive stance toward Europe “in the first sign of EU unity”, a source in Brussels has told EURACTIV.com.

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