The foreign ministers of European countries expressed their annoyance over Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya and Cyprus, while they postponed imposing sanctions on Ankara to the meeting on Thursday.
European Union foreign ministers said Turkey had failed to help resolve a dispute over natural gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean, but left any decision on sanctions on Ankara for the European Union summit on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The 27 ministers tasked with assessing the causes of economic sanctions on Ankara did not go further than agreeing that Turkey had exacerbated tensions since October, when European Union leaders voiced their threat to impose punitive measures in December.
“Unfortunately, we have not seen much progress or improvement since the last European Council meeting,” the chief diplomat of the European Union Josep Borrell told reporters, referring to the summit held on October 1 and 2, when European Union leaders granted Ankara time to find a diplomatic solution.
Borrell added, “We have not witnessed a fundamental change in the direction of Turkey’s behavior. On the contrary, the situation has worsened in several aspects.”
European Union countries cite Turkish exploration in disputed waters, the decision to reopen part of the town of Varosha in the disputed territories in Cyprus, and the dispute with Germany over the UN arms embargo on Libya as evidence that Turkey is no longer a reliable partner.
For his part, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Twitter that “Turkey’s position is a challenge to the Union as a whole,” and it appears that he challenges the comments he made earlier, on Monday, by his Turkish counterpart that Greece and Cyprus are manipulating the European Union to work against Turkey.
Tensions erupted in August when Turkey sent a survey ship to determine prospects for energy exploration in waters claimed by Greece.
Germany, which currently holds the European Union presidency for six months, holds the key to knowing whether sanctions will go ahead, and which had been hoping to mediate between Athens and Ankara, but was furious when Turkey resumed gas exploration off Cyprus in October.
“There will be a decision at the summit,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after the meeting. “There were frequent Turkish provocations, so the EU summit will have to decide how to deal with this matter.”
The Turkish ship, which was the center of the conflict, returned to the port again last week, which was welcomed by the European Union and NATO, but the President of the European Council Charles Michel warned Turkey against playing the “cat- and -mouse” game by returning exploration ships to the port before the EU summits. To be reposted after its expiration.