Cyprus erupts at EU as it furiously slates Brussels over lack of sanctions on Turkey

Cyprus erupts at EU as it furiously slates Brussels over lack of sanctions on Turkey

Turkey began drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus last year despite warnings from Brussels, amid broader fears of a military escalation in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Turkey are NATO allies but have been estranged for years over naval drills held in the area.

Cypriot diplomats now fear EU diplomats and officials are unlikely to follow through on a threat to impose sanctions on Turkey at the summit on October 1 and 2.

Cyprus is blocking EU sanctions on Belarus as a result until the bloc takes a tougher stance towards Ankara.

Ahead of the summit, a diplomatic source told the Sunday Mail Nicosia: “The most you’ll get is a statement dressed up in generic lingo, something to the effect the EU calls on all parties to engage in dialogue and refrain from raising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.”

The source, who requested anonymity, added: “In this case, it was unrealistic to expect France – despite Macron’s strong anti-Turkey rhetoric – to push it too far.

“And Greece softened its stance once it and Turkey agreed to hold talks on their own maritime disputes.

“So yes, Nicosia did have a strategy to incur a cost on Turkey for its violations of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone – but with too many moving parts, and politics always in flux, the Belarus gambit slowly unraveled.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also defended the Cypriots slating the EU over its treatment of the country.

The EU was thought to be unhappy with Cyprus after it failed to support the decision to impose penalties on Belarus over election fraud and human rights abuses.

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“They don’t like that idea.I disagree on that but that’s their position. Sanctions could be negotiated again and again, and if there is a unanimity … we can do so.

“But now there is no agreement.”

Mediation led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel has calmed Greek and Turkish tempers after weeks of tension in the eastern Mediterranean.

Brussels secured an agreement on Tuesday to restart talks on continental shelf boundaries that broke off in 2016 in the process.

One EU diplomat added: “Dialogue has reduced the need to threaten sanctions on Turkey and so there’s no consensus among the 27 for such a step right now.”

Talks will begin on Thursday.

Published at Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:30:00 +0000