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EU assessing Turkey’s behaviour over research ship

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EU-Turkey relations are under ongoing assessment at several levels, after Ankara announced a new survey mission in the Eastern Mediterranean with its vessel Oruc Reis, said European Commission spokesperson for foreign affairs Peter Stano.

“It’s up to the EU leaders and the leaders of the Member States to make a definitive assessment when the time comes,” Stano said during Monday’s briefing in Brussels.

“Whatever we are witnessing, since June until now every day, is feeding into the ongoing assessment,” he added.

Stano said the member states “discuss these issues regularly at different levels be they the working groups of the Council or the Foreign Affairs Council and then at the highest level among themselves as the leaders of the EU”.

The next Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is scheduled for October 18 in Luxembourg.

“So, towards the end of the week, we will have more clarity towards what is decided on the agenda.

“Whatever input there is from one side or another is being provided into these discussions so the leaders, in the end, can make the necessary decisions if needed.”

The Commission spokesperson reiterated that during the June European Council, the leaders: “Said very clearly what the expectations of the EU when it comes to Turkey’s actions and they stressed that we are interested in constructive engagement with Turkey”.

EU leaders had “welcomed the de-escalation which was happening at the time, and they said that it is very important to maintain this de-escalation and make it sustainable.

“Turkey’s behaviour and actions towards the EU and its member states will remain constructive, not unilateral and based on good neighbourly relations and based on the respect for international law.

“The EU and its member states are watching this issue very clearly and very closely, and are making their assessment and if needed, they will discuss again…”

Ankara announced its research vessel Oruc Reis would conduct “exploratory work” north of Cyprus, infringing the republic’s exclusive economic zone.

The vessels will be in Cyprus waters until December 16.

Nicosia has condemned the move as a violation of its sovereign rights.