France backs Turkey sanctions as an option

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Brussels must be ready to activate all its tools including sanctions against Turkey, in response to Ankara’s aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean, France’s visiting Europe Minister Clément Beaune said Friday.

After meeting Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, Βeaune said his country fully supports Nicosia which is calling for tougher EU action if Turkey refuses to enter into a dialogue.

France has strongly backed Greece and Cyprus in a growing standoff with Turkey over hydrocarbon resources and naval influence in the eastern Mediterranean, which has sparked fears of more severe conflict.

The French minister said Turkish confrontation over maritime and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean were “unacceptable” and Europe’s solidarity should be demonstrated at the September 24-25 European Council.

Christodoulides said he hoped at the European Council will display the same determination as France, so that “together we can implement the decisions taken as regards Turkey”.

He said Beaune’s presence in Cyprus “clearly highlights” the decisive role that Paris plays in addressing common challenges.

Christodoulides said Turkey was testing the credibility and ability of the European Union to effectively protect its vital interests, as well as the sovereignty and sovereign rights of its member states.

He argued the renewal of the Turkish NAVTEX for the Yavuz drillship off Cyprus clearly shows Turkey’s real intentions.

“We hope the EU partners will show the same determination as France so that together we can implement the decisions we have taken.”

The Cypriot Minister said traditionally close and friendly relations with France have developed into a strategically important relationship.

Beaune said France wants peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and referred to Turkey’s actions in Greek and Cyprus waters.

He said that it is a matter of principle for Europe to stand united, adding that this issue jeopardizes security and sovereignty of a member state.

The French State Secretary also referred to his country’s military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean to support its “European partners, to show solidarity, to join hands and express its strong position”.

Beaune said France believes that the EU should stand ready to use all the tools at its disposal and of course to decide for sanctions if the developments are not positive.

He flew over the island’s exclusive economic zone before travelling to Athens later Friday for talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Turkey last month deployed an exploration vessel backed by military frigates in waters between Greece and Cyprus, prompting Athens to respond with naval exercises as a warning.

Another cause of tension between France, as well as its EU allies, and Turkey has been Libya, where Ankara has engaged militarily in support of the UN-recognised government in Tripoli. (source agencies)