Ten days after the last European Council meeting, relations between Europe and Turkey seem to be entering a new context. The final text of conclusions was the result of hard negotiations given by the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and all those who participated in the Greek mission. Besides, the reactions of the Turkish side show that the Greek side achieved its goal.
Turkey could not divide Europe. On the contrary, the European Union has shown unity, solidarity and determination, sending clear messages to Turkey, which can no longer ignore them at no cost.
The EU has made it clear that it no longer treats Greek-Turkish differences as a recurring bilateral problem, but as a broader issue of regional security and geopolitical strategy on its southeastern border. The EU prefers to manage this problem peacefully and through dialogue, but is willing to use the other options if the provocation in violation of international law continues. And in fact within a specific time scope.
Our partners showed Erdogan both the “carrot” and the “whip”. Turkey now has two paths to follow: That of cooperation, through the normalization of its relations with Greece and Cyprus, which will bring a new agenda in relations with the EU. Or that of delinquency, which will lead to a move away from European context and economic sanctions. So let Turkey choose and bear the cost of its choices.
Apart from the Euro-Turkish relations, however, the European Council explicitly – and even twice – took a position on the framework of the Greek-Turkish relations. Without footnotes or asterisks, the EU acknowledged that there were not many differences to be resolved, but the following one: the delimitation of maritime zones. Erdogan’s narrative is no longer convincing. Neither Greece nor the Union see another difference on the table.
Regarding Cyprus, UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789 on Varosha are part of a European decision for the first time. And this explicit reference to the resolutions acquires special value after the last provocative Turkish action of opening Varosha. With these, Turkey now confronts another international organization, ignores in practice European and international urgings for de-escalation, and, ultimately, does nothing to improve its relations with the European Union.
And this is something that Ankara needs to realize, also on the issue of exploratory contacts. If Turkey decides to follow us, fine. It must prove that its disposition for dialogue is sincere and not ostensible. Otherwise, do not take anything for granted for its future with Greece and the European Union.
The opinions of the author does not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.
Miltiadis Varvitsiotis is a Member of Parliament for the ruling New Democracy Party and Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs.