LAST UPDATE: 16:59
Turkish aggression, whether expressed through unilateral actions or extreme rhetoric, can no longer be tolerated, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday in doorstep statements before the Special European Council.
“The time has come for Europe to discuss bravely and sincerely what kind of relationship it really wants to have with Turkey,” Mitsotakis said.
While Turkish aggression violates the sovereign rights of two EU member states – Greece and Cyprus – it also “touches on the significant geopolitical interests of all Europe in the Mediterranean,” he said.
There are only two choices, the PM noted, either the path of dialogue in diplomacy, which must be based on respect of international law, avoidance of unilateral actions and good neighborhood rules, or the path of escalating tension, which sooner or later will inevitably lead to Europe taking measures against Turkey.
Greece has “proven it wants to follow the first path. It’s up to Turkey to do the same, but it must do so with consistency and constancy,” Mitsotakis stressed.
Greek PM met European Council President and European Commission President
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday met European Council President Charles Michel, as soon as he arrived in Brussels for the special EU Summit.
Michel and Mitsotakis agreed that the EU wishes to have a good relationship with Turkey and stability in the region, but added, however, that the EU is prepared to use all the tools at its disposal in order to protect its interests and promote its goals.
During the meeting, Mitsotakis said that Greece wishes to have good neighbourly relations without tensions in the region but it was clear, he added, that it was now in Turkey’s hands to choose either cooperation or to face the consequences of its behaviour.
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) October 1, 2020
Afterwards, Mitsotakis also met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. After the meeting, von der Leyen posted on her Twitter account: “Happy to meet Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of EUCO! Very good talk about the recovery plan, migration, EUCO agenda – in particular the need to de-escalate the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Happy to meet ??Prime Minister @kmitsotakis ahead of #EUCO! Very good talk about the recovery plan, migration, EUCO agenda – in particular the need to de-escalate the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. pic.twitter.com/EzYiL7GjhB
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 1, 2020
It is reminded that EU leaders are discussing Turkish aggression as well as the falsified results of the presidential election in Belarus at today’s and tomorrow’s summit.
Turkey’s drilling activities near Cyprus and Greece will be in the spotlight, with Nicosia calling for sanctions against Turkey, setting this decision as a condition in order to give its approval to impose economic sanctions on Belarus.
According to Reuters, EU leaders are not prepared to impose sanctions on Turkey at this time, and will simply offer Nicosia “guarantees” for future sanctions against Turkey.
“The idea is to threaten Turkey with retaliation if it continues drilling and other provocations in Cypriot and Greek waters,” Reuters quoted, citing a high-ranking EU diplomat in order to persuade Nicosia to lift its veto on sanctions against Belarus.
EU-China relations, the case of Alexei Navalny, Belarus, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Brexit will also be discussed.
In a letter to European leaders, the President of the European Council Charles Michel noted that the EU’s goal is to have room for constructive dialogue with Turkey, stressing that “all options remain on the table to defend the legitimate interests of the EU and its Member States.”