Borrell: Turkey must de-escalate tension or face consequences

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Turkey must immediately de-escalate in the Eastern Mediterranean to start problem-solving, otherwise, Brussels will consider sanctions, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament plenary.

Borrell said he would continue to try to make room for dialogue with Turkey, no matter how difficult it may be by its conduct, warning that “anything else would also undermine the prospect of resuming talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue”.

He also reminded that the EU stands in full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

“Unfortunately, the tensions continued to rise over the summer. I have spent the last few months – including my summer holidays – trying to facilitate de-escalation efforts; however, it is clear that more efforts are needed.

The latest move by Turkey to discontinue seismic exploration in the continental shelf of Greece is a step in the right direction. Let us hope it will lead to further steps towards dialogue.”

The European Council will discuss Turkey sanctions, if East Med tensions continue to simmer when it meets on September 24-25.

“Recent developments show that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean requires our urgent and collective engagement.

Turkey’s threatening actions and statements are unacceptable. Turkey has to refrain from unilateral actions. This is a basic element to allow the dialogue to advance.

Our position is very clear: we are determined to defend the European Union’s interests and stand in full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

Immediate de-escalation is essential to allow for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations, which is the only path towards stability and lasting solutions,” Borrell said.

He said Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond put into question “how our relations will develop in future”.

Michael Roth, German Minister for European Affairs, stressed that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is particularly fragile, problems remain, including those of immigration, and that “Turkey is not fulfilling its responsibilities in the region.”

He said the European Council should send two clear messages: “First, that the EU stands with unlimited solidarity with Greece and Cyprus” and “there can be no military solution – only a political solution – leaders will consider what will happen if there is no de-escalation”. (source CNA)