EU Council leaders 'deplore renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey' in east Med

Friday, 16 Oct 2020 23:54 UPD: 23:58

French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, speaks with from right, Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa, European Council President Charles Michel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis during a roundtable meeting at the two-day EU summit in Brussels, Belgium October 16, 2020. The leaders meet amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic to discuss foreign policy issues

The European Council, comprised of EU member-states' leaders, on Friday again very publicly criticized Turkey for its "unilateral and provocative actions" in the east Mediterranean, although again falling short of slapping immediate sanctions on the increasingly autocratic and belligerent Erdogan-led Turkey.

A communique issue after the two-day meeting in Brussels noted that "..."The European Council reaffirms its conclusions of 1-2 October 2020 and deplores renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, including recent exploratory activities," its conclusions paper said. It also said it "urges respect for UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789, underlines the importance of the status of Varosha and reiterates its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus."

Speaking to reporters as a Turkish research vessel continued to sail back and forth in a sea region in waters Greece expects to claim in any EEZ delimitation - i.e. some 20 nm from the small isle of Kastellorizo - Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the EU was "unpleasantly surprised by Turkey's most recent attitude and the resumption of the Oruc Reis' maritime activity," a reference to the research vessel.

EU leaders also urged Turkey to "reverse these actions and work for the easing of tensions in a consistent and sustained manner."  

Nevertheless, Mitsotakis expressed guarded optimism that EU-Turkey relations will not reach a point where sanctions against Turkey are necessary, while warning that the "EU does have the decisiveness necessary to proceed with taking measures against Turkey that could be severe."

Asked if December is a reasonable deadline for the Union's leaders to take concrete action on Turkey, he said any conclusions require a unanimous consensus.  

According to media reports in the wake of the summit, Mitsotakis also pressed for a weapons embargo to be imposed on Turkey by EU countries.

On his part, French President Emmanuel Macron said he and other leaders reiterated support for Greece and Cyprus at the Council.

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