In the natural gas dispute, the European Union is not imposing severe sanctions on Turkey for the time being, but only punishing individuals. The goal is to convince the government to change course.
Despite ongoing provocations, Turkey should be spared from harsh EU sanctions for the time being. The draft final declaration of the EU summit ending next Friday only mentions that “additional services” will be provided because of Turkey’s natural gas wells off Cyprus. This means punitive measures against the persons and companies involved. They include EU entry bans, asset freezes and bans on doing business with those affected.
Provocations in the conflict over the partition of Cyprus
According to the text available to the German news agency, further steps would be taken at the earliest at the next regular summit in March. Until then, the European Commission and the External Service will present further options for action, as well as a report on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the political and economic relations between the EU and Turkey. Close coordination with the new US administration will also take place in Turkey’s policies.
Turkey has been criticized mainly for its controversial gas exploration in sea areas off Cyprus and near Greek islands. Provocations in the conflict over the partition of Cyprus and violations of the UN arms embargo against Libya are also considered unacceptable.
Further EU course recently controversial
In order to induce the government in Ankara to change its policy, it is promised closer cooperation on the “carrot and stick” principle. The offer of a positive EU-Turkey agenda remains on the table – the prerequisite for this is that Turkey is willing to “resolve disputes in dialogue and in accordance with international law”, according to the draft summit conclusions.
Such a positive agenda could extend to areas such as economics and trade and further cooperation on migration issues. According to the text, the EU will remain ready to provide financial support to Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey.
It should become clear on Thursday evening whether the final declaration will be adopted in its current form. The future direction of the EU has recently been controversial among member states.
Turkey is needed as a partner in the fight against illegal migration
Countries such as France, Greece and Cyprus are pushing for the toughest possible course with painful EU sanctions up to and including suspension of the customs union. Germany, among others, is convinced that Turkey, for example, is needed as a partner in the fight against illegal migration and must not be alienated.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees the situation in the same way as the German government. Shortly before the summit, he warned the EU against a break with ally Turkey. There are differences with Turkey that need to be addressed, Stoltenberg said. At the same time, however, one must recognize the importance of Turkey as part of NATO and also as part of the “Western family”. The country is an important ally in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). In addition, Turkey is home to the most refugees of all NATO allies, Stoltenberg said.