After about nine hours of tough negotiations, the first day of the European Council summit in Brussels concluded.
Shortly before 2am, the European Union’s 27 leaders agreed on the text of the conclusions, which concerns the “the way of dealing with Turkey.”
Apart from Turkey, they also agreed to impose sanctions on dozens of senior officials in Belarus accused of falsifying presidential election results.
The European Council summit in Brussels was stretched out as Greece and Cyprus rejected statements on the basis that there were no prospect of sanctions against Turkey and instead merely expressed “solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.”
“The draft is unacceptable because it is unbalanced,” Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas told ERT.
“It is an important meeting for the Euro-Turkish relations and not only for all the external relations of the EU… Especially on this issue of the agenda, which is again the debate on which path Turkey is following, as it seems to be slipping away from the West, the basic text proposed as the first basis for discussion is not accepted by Greece,” he added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea of imposing sanctions against Turkey, noting that they are a NATO partner and an agreement should be reached more peacefully. “I will point out that our relationship with Turkey is indeed very complicated and that the European Union has a great interest in developing a really constructive relationship with Turkey, despite all the difficulties.”
A meeting was also held between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, where it was agreed to make corrections to the text.
Following, Michel handed over a new draft of conclusions which stressed that no one can divide Europe. Thus, the EU sent a message of unity, solidarity and determination.
Turkey’s unilateral actions are condemned and it is clear that if such behaviour continues, there will be consequences.
The new text also emphasises that the EU “calls on Turkey to start dialogue aimed at resolving all maritime disputes with Cyprus” and notes that the European Council “remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue.”
Another point that was corrected is the wording stating that “in the event of renewed unilateral action or challenge in breach of international law, the EU will use all the means and options at its disposal, including in accordance with Article 29 of the TEU [Treaty on European Union] and Article 215 TFEU [Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union], in order to defend its interests and the interests of its Member States,” referring to sanctions, although the word is not mentioned.
The EU will monitor developments closely and take the appropriate decisions by December 2020, the latest.
On her part, Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is clearly in solidarity with Cyprus and Greece and stressed that there are “tools” in the drawer, implying sanctions, but the “27” do not want to use them.
“It is good that there is a credible dialogue between Greece and Turkey, but Ankara has not made any progress with Cyprus. We want a credible relationship with Turkey and this will only happen if the provocative attitudes stop… We want dialogue and work to improve issues such as trade and immigration. We want to build a strong relationship with Turkey,” she said.
The meeting will resume tomorrow morning.
Before the start of the Summit, Stoltenberg announced that an agreement was reached between Greece and Turkey, that includes establishing a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“I welcome the establishment of a military de-confliction mechanism, achieved through the constructive engagement of Greece and Turkey,” he said in a statement.