EU to discuss sanctions against Turkey

The two-day European Council leaders’ meeting will begin today in Brussels. The agenda includes the possibility of imposing sanctions on

EU Turkey sanctions

Photo: Turkish Defense Ministry/ AP

The two-day European Council leaders’ meeting will begin today in Brussels.

The agenda includes the possibility of imposing sanctions on Turkey. Turkish natural gas exploration in the disputed waters of the Eastern Mediterranean has soured tensions with the bloc, and particularly with Greece, Cyprus and France.

Although previous Council meetings saw attempts to implement trade embargoes against Turkey, the Council has yet to reach a collective agreement. Member states Italy, Malta, Spain and Bulgaria are likely to abstain from making a final decision on the matter to avoid hurting diplomatic ties with Turkey. Germany, which currently holds the Council’s presidency, will still push for an outcome, especially in light of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ calls for Turkey to end its provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean. On the other hand, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decried punitive measures, countering that Ankara is willing to negotiate with Brussels even while refusing to comply with EU demands. Erdogan’s assertive behaviour has drawn strong criticism from EU members.

The Eastern Mediterranean gas dispute is unlikely to deescalate any time soon. Erdogan has repeatedly extended the deadline of a Turkish research vessel’s exploration mission, which suggests that Ankara is not inclined to relent.

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