The European Council refers to targeted measures against Turkey

The European Council in its conclusions after the summit referred to targeted measures against Turkey late on Thursday.

The full text of the European Council follows:

“The European Council recalls and reaffirms previous Council and European Council conclusions, including the European Council conclusions of 22 March 2018 strongly condemning Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.

The European Council expresses serious concerns over Turkey’s current illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and deplores that Turkey has not yet responded to the EU’s repeated calls to cease such activities. The European Council underlines the serious immediate negative impact that such illegal actions have across the range of EU-Turkey relations. The European Council calls on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions.

The European Council endorses the invitation to the Commission and the EEAS to submit options for appropriate measures without delay, including targeted measures. The EU will continue to closely monitor developments and stands ready to respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus.

The European Council will remain seized of the matter and will revert accordingly.”

Katrougalos: For the first time we have a document that talks of measures against Turkey

Foreign Minister George Katrougalos on Thursday highlighted the importance of the EU message with respect to Turkey’s illegal and provocative actions in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Eastern Mediterranean, noting that the issue will be discussed at the European Council on Thursday and Friday.

Speaking on the radio station “Sto Kokkino”, Katrougalos said a draft text of the European Council’s decision had been prepared and some preparatory work was done at the General Affairs Council.

“We know that for the first time we have a document that talks of measures against Turkey, if it shoudl continue these illegal and provocative actions,” he said, noting that this was a step up from the European Council’s decision in March 2018, which first described Turkey’s actions as contrary to international law, and now warned Turkey that there would be consequences if it continued its current tactics, at the highest level within the EU.

The importance of the victory for Greek and Cypriot diplomacy was reflected in the speed with which the Turkish foreign ministry had replied to the General Affairs Council’s decision, saying that the EU was being made “a hostage” of Greece and Cyprus, he added.

Asked whether Turkey was likely to continue its provocative actions, Katrougalos said that to do so would be Turkey loss, since it would become even more isolated and its position in the international community would become weaker.

He also warned that Ankara “should not even consider” adopting such behaviour in Greek waters: “We have the Hellenic Navy and have sent the necessary signals to all quarters that no one should consider coming to our waters. I assure you that these messages have been received because no one is so mad or foolhardy as to risk an incident in the Aegean,” he said, in another interview with the radio station “Thema”.

Tsipras: Whoever violates international law will face consequences

Prior to the EU decision, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed hope that the European Council will take absolutely clear decisions on two crucial issues: the leadership of the European Commission and Turkey’s violations in the Cyprus Republic’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“We must rule out the possibility that the head of the European Commission for the next five years will be a politician that does not unite but divides Europe,” he said, referring to Manfred Weber.

Tsipras also stressed the need to send a clear message to Turkey to immediately cease illegal activities within Cyprus’ EEZ and violations of international law, if necessary through measures and sanctions.

“We will examine every possibility so that, to the degree that there is not an immediate end to these violations, there are the appropriate measures and sanctions,” he said, pointing out that Ankara, by violating Cyprus’ sovereignty, was also violating the sovereignty of the European Union.

He noted that the Council must make critical decisions that concern the future of Europe but also the future of the EU’s relations with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

According to Tsipras, Weber was a politician that had adopted extreme positions against the European South and against Greece, as well as being a supporter of austerity rather than social convergence, social cohesion and solidarity “that are the common values of the EU”.

Tsipras had earlier expressed his support for Frans Timmermans as president of the European Commission during the Party of European Socialists (PES) preparatory session for heads of state and government in Brussels, government sources said.

With respect to Turkey, Tsipras said that, together with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, they will strive to make the Council adopt clear positions and clear decisions on this issue and this was the reason they had scheduled a meeting before the summit in order to coordinate their actions, “so that today there will be the best possible decision for our national interests.”

“The message must be clear: whoever violates international law will face consequences,” he said.