Cyprus and Greece are pleased with the joint statement of the 27 EU leaders on Turkey, which, as they said, is based on the Borrell report and confirms the results of previous European Councils in the neighboring country.
“This is a two-fold approach, which includes positive measures but also sanctions, if Turkey repeats unilateral actions and its delinquent behavior,” officials in Athens told media. “All decisions are gradual, conditional and reversible. A blank check is not being given to Turkey, whose behavior will be assessed and the relevant decisions will be taken in June,” the government officials added.
Following pressure by Cyprus and Greece, the EU leaders adopted the proposed modifications on Thursday night.
European Union leaders are ready to boost cooperation with Turkey if a “current de-escalation is sustained”, they said in a video summit on Thursday following a spike in tensions.
The bloc is looking to plot a way forward after ties with its strategic southeastern neighbor nosedived last year over Ankara’s gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Today, we have a clear framework and we hope, we really hope, it will be possible to improve the relationship with Turkey,” said European Council president Charles Michel, euractive reported.
“But we remain cautious and remain careful.”
The summit conclusions said the EU was ready “to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner to enhance cooperation in a number of areas of common interest” and leaders could take further decisions in June.
But that was only if “the current de-escalation is sustained and… Turkey engages constructively”.
On the table is the prospect of meeting Turkish ambitions for top-level talks, preliminary moves to modernise a customs union and progress towards a potential liberalisation of visa rules.
EU chiefs prepare to pay a visit to Turkey, probably in April.
The conclusions also said the EU was prepared to impose sanctions “to defend its interests and those of its member states” if Ankara backtracks.
Greece and Cyprus would like to see “more stick” and “less carrot” in the EU positions vis-à-vis Ankara, although they realise the bloc follows a coordinated approach with the US aimed to make sure Turkey remains an ally to the Western alliance.
PS As long as Berlin supports Ankara there will never be any sanctions…