European Union leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday condemned Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, but fell short of adopting concrete measures against Ankara.
Under pressure from Greece and Cyprus, the EU called for the Commission to “submit options for appropriate measures without delay, including targeted measures.”
Speaking to reporters, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Ankara that it could expect a tough response.
“We are in full solidarity with Cyprus. What Turkey is doing in the territorial waters of Cyprus is totally unacceptable […] The commission has been charged to propose measures to be taken as soon as possible when it comes to this conflict and we’ll do so, and these will not be soft measures,” Juncker said.
It remains unclear what these measures might be. Commentators say that any proposed action against Turkey will require the approval of EU member-states.
Arriving at the summit meeting, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras 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.
Conclusions on Turkey of the European Council meeting (20 June 2019)
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
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