Turkey turns to EU after US sanctions?

Turkey's sudden desire to 'turn a new page' in its western relations comes as a surprise. But what is behind the apparent change of heart, asks Robert Ellis. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

Athens has welcomed US sanctions against two Turkish ministries and three officials over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system. The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, briefed Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday about Washington’s sanctions.

Read also: Turkey ‘upset’, but undeterred by US sanctions and EU threats

The US took action against Ankara’s military operations in Syria by imposing sanctions against Turkey’s national defence and energy and natural resources ministries. Sanctions were also slapped on the country’s interior minister, its national defence minister, as well as its energy and natural resources minister.

Following Washington’s decision, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a call with EU Council chief Charles Michel. According to an EU official, the call was held at Turkey’s request.

Erdoğan then issued a statement expressing his hope to turn a “new page” in the EU-Turkey relations.

“We hope that the EU will adopt a constructive and prudent attitude towards Turkey,” Erdoğan said, adding that the 2016 EU-Turkey migration deal could be a starting point for creating more positive momentum.

At the 10 December EU summit, leaders stopped short of imposing strict sanctions against Turkey, granting Ankara in practice another three-month period to de-escalate until March 2021.

(Alexandros Fotiadis, Theodore Karaoulanis | EURACTIV.gr – Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)

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