EU Leaders Give Turkey a Slap on the Wrist



Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Credit: Greek Government

The Greek government hailed the outcome of Thursday’s EU Summit as positive for Greece and Cyprus in regards to Turkey’s aggressive moves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, the EU warned Turkey that sanctions will be imposed unless Ankara stops provocations against the two Union members.

Yet, in truth, the EU’s new warning to Turkey was similar to several previous ones in recent months, coming either from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen or from individual national leaders.

“We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions. In case of such renewed actions by Ankara the EU will use all its instruments and options available. We have a toolbox that we can apply immediately,” the European Commission president warned in his statement.

Turkey’s compliance with this express warning will be discussed again in December. In other words, one might say that the EU leaders gave Turkey two more months to continue acting like Turkey, the bully of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis (left) with European Council President Charles Michel at the Summit. Credit: Greek Government

The warnings sent to Turkey from the European Commission in recent years have been numerous. Yet Turkey never seemed to lose sleep over any of them.

The Turkish army advanced in Syria to attack Kurds, involved itself in Libya’s civil war, now sides with Azerbaijan in its armed conflict with Armenia, sends warships to Greek and Cypriot territorial waters to accompany research vessels, and violates Greek airspace on a weekly basis.

It has also forcefully tried to push many thousands of migrants to Greece through the Evros border, allows boatloads of migrants to leave its shores for Greece on a daily basis, draws maps of Turkey including lands that belong to other countries, and threatens war against Greece and Cyprus.

And the list goes on and on.

For all these acts that violate international law and the Law of the Sea and cost many lives, Turkey has received mere warnings from the European Union, the United States and NATO. Warnings that never stopped Recep Tayyip Erdogan acting like a great sultan wannabe.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: Council of the European Union

One cannot be convinced that a man who tells his constituents that he will “drown the Greeks like their ancestors in Smyrna” if he doesn’t get what he wants in the Aegean is a man who can have a dialogue with Greece.

How can you trust a man who draws imaginary maps of Turkey that include parts of the sea and land of your country and sit down at the table of negotiations and discuss territorial issues with him?

How can one expect to go to a dialogue with Turkey when Ankara lays impossible demands on the table as a prerequisite, such as the demilitarization of Kastellorizo, a Greek island that Turkey claims ownership of?

Ideally, Erdogan will finally realize that his country can no longer stand the outcry of the international community and possible isolation. Much more importantly, he will realize that the precipitous plunge Turkey’s economy has taken can lead to a point of no return.

Only then will the constant EU warnings and threats of sanctions have the necessary weight to make him change his dangerous agenda.