PM Tsipras to ask EU leaders to step up pressure on Turkey, gov’t sources say

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in concert with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, intends to raise the issue of Turkey’s provocative actions in the Aegean and Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) during the European leaders’ summit meetings in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, government sources said on Wednesday.

The sources also noted a statement by European Council President Donald Tusk, about a month ago, that EU leaders will strive to send a strong message to Turkey over both its actions and rhetoric.

According to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) correspondent in Brussels, meanwhile, Tsipras is expected to have meetings with Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May over the two days, to discuss Turkey, Cyprus and FYROM.

The prime minister is arriving in the Belgian capital on Wednesday night, to attend the European Council and other meetings by EU heads of state and government over the two days.

Tsipras is expected to especially emphasise the issue of the two Greek soldiers currently being held in a Turkish prison, seeking to coordinate and put stronger pressure on Ankara for their swift return. The two soldiers were arrested after crossing the border into Turkey during a border patrol, in what the Greek side says was an accidental incident caused by poor visibility in the area.

He will also outline Greece’s positions on the European prospects of the Western Balkans and the progress of Athens’ talks with Skopje and Tirana, which are crucial for the accession prospects of FYROM and Albania.

Tsipras will take part in a series of meetings while in Brussels, starting with a Party of European Socialists (PES) preparatory summit, where he will be attending as an observer, at 13:30 on Thursday.He will then participate in the European Council starting at 15:00 and the dinner for EU leaders at 20:30.

On Friday morning at 10:00 he will take part in a working breakfast to discuss the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU (Article 50) and at 12:30 he will take part in a summit for the Eurozone.