The European Union (EU) council has decided to impose sanctions on Turkish officials and entities involved in gas drillings in the East Mediterranean, and has deferred arms embargos and tariffs after discussions with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the US, news agencies reported on Friday.
The Guardian divulged that the decision came after heated discussions during the two-day summit of the leaders of the 27 EU member states.
“Unfortunately, a number of developments have taken place in the southeastern Mediterranean, where unfortunately we have to say that we have to do more listings due to what we consider to be the illegal drillings” by Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed, according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey has argued that its energy exploration is lawful and that it only wants a fair share of the region’s resources based on dialogue, Anadolu Agency revealed, stating that Greece has continually undermined such dialogue.
At the same time, according to The Guardian, the decision disappointed “hardliners” such as France, Cyprus, and Greece, which had pressed for more urgent and substantive action to express EU disapproval of Turkish foreign policy.
The EU and the NATO are planning to hold a summit with US President-elect Joe Biden after he takes office in January, Al Jazeera reported, pointing out that many EU states are also members of the NATO alliance.
“It is very clear what is at stake here: the credibility of the European Union,” The Guardian disclosed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stating before the summit, adding that Greek diplomats did little to disguise their disappointment.
Anadolu Agency reported Merkel conveying that the EU had hoped for “more constructive relations” with Turkey during Germany’s EU presidency, which ends on 1 January when Portugal takes the helm.
“We are still reaching out to Turkey, we want a constructive agenda with Turkey,” Merkel stressed.
Germany insisted on keeping the door open to Turkish cooperation and ensured the EU statement offered a hand of friendship if Turkey reciprocated, and provided sustained de-escalation, including a willingness to settle disputes through dialogue in line with international law.
EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration have long been at odds with Turkey over maritime claims in the East Mediterranean.
The Turkish government has sent drillships in recent months to explore for energy resources in the vicinity, asserting Turkey’s rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.