The EU will use a carrot and stick policy to try and dissuade Turkey from carrying on its illegal drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, it said on Monday, only days after announcing that sanctions were being prepared in the event Ankara continued its activities in the region.
“As well as sticks (sanctions), there will be carrots too to get Ankara to engage seriously in dialogue. These carrots could be progress on a new customs union and more money for the refugee programme,” a European Commission spokesman told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Germany, which has been trying to defuse the tensions, also weighed on Monday, making it clear Ankara must end the provocations, foreign ministry spokesman Christopher Burger said.
“We need to give diplomacy a chance, but Turkey needs to fulfil the condition and end further provocations,” he said. Germany tried last week to defuse the situation in Athens and Ankara but to no avail.
“In recent days we tried to mediate, something we will also do in the coming days and weeks,” he added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had a telephone conversation with the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell late on Sunday. Borrell briefed Cavusoglu on the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers last week in Berlin where it was decided to draw up sanctions in time for the EU Council meeting on September 24, in case Turkey did not comply by then with calls to end its illegal drilling.
European Commission spokesman Peter Stano told CNA on Monday the Turkish side was told what the EU’s expectations were in terms of finding a peaceful solution and how the EU sees the road towards de-escalation.
“The bottom line is to have the dialogue going, instead of unilateral actions which increase the tensions in the area among the neighbours and among the EU and Turkey as such,” said Stano.
“The ministers were very clear that they want to find a path towards a healthier relationship between the EU and Turkey to give a serious chance to dialogue. It is essential to stop unilateral actions, it is essential to stop exchanges of messages through the media, declarations and statements, that we are witnessing right now between Turkey and Greece for example,” he added.
Asked about Turkey’s threats towards Greece and Cyprus, Stano said it would not be productive to comment on the public declarations and statements and exchanges of “very strong words and unfortunate words”.
“The ministers were very determined on showing solidarity with its two affected member states Cyprus and Greece and they were very clear on their call to the Turkey’s authorities to end any unilateral activities which are escalating tension in the Mediterranean,” he said. If it was not possible to have a dialogue, and if there was no de-escalation, the appropriate measures would be taken.
Cavusoglu had only harsh words for the EU at the weekend. Announcing that the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis would remain in the eastern Mediterranean for the next 90 days, Cavusoglu said some countries want to hold Turkey responsible for the tensions. He said Ankara had talked with many European countries in the face of sanctions threats, and “they agree that we are in the right,” he said.
On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referring to the escalation of tensions in the region, said: “Turkey, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, will not succumb to threats, intimidation and blackmail and will continue to defend its rights under international law. law, but also bilateral agreements.”
A statement from the Turkish foreign ministry on Monday said Ankara was capable of deterring those trying to violate its rights. The ministry was responding to a question about French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement on ‘red lines’, in the region.
“Those who believe that they have drawn red lines against the just case of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, will face only the decisive stance of our country,” the statement said.
“If there is a red line in the region, it is the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots under international law. It is time for those who see themselves through the giant mirror to face the truth. The imperialist era of drawing maps by drawing lines is a thing of the past.”
The statement added that the conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean would not be resolved “by provocations from outside actors” but by dialogue and cooperation between the coastal countries on the basis of the rule of law.
Macron said on Friday that he had taken a tough stance over the summer with regard to Turkey’s actions, setting red lines because Ankara respected actions not words.
“When it comes to Mediterranean sovereignty, I have to be consistent in deeds and words,” Macron said.
“I can tell you that the Turks only consider and respect that. If you say words that are not followed by acts…What France did this summer was important: it’s a red line policy.”