Potential European Union sanctions on Turkey have become a contentious issue inside the bloc, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.
The EU has been in an impasse over a decision to impose sanctions on Belarus since Cyprus threatened to block the vote should the 27-member union not levy sanctions on Turkey for its part in a dispute over territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean.
“This is a high-voltage political problem that the European Council will have to solve and I can’t tell you how the council will solve it,” the EUobserver cited Borrel as saying. He referred to an upcoming emergency summit on Thursday, in which the EU’s leaders plan to evaluate possible sanctions against Turkey.
Borrell said that he “didn’t blame” Cyprus for taking a tough line on the matter.
“If Turkey doesn’t change its behaviour – and it hasn’t changed its behaviour – toward Cyprus, then we’ll have to consider sanctions.”
On Aug. 10, Turkey sent its Oruç Reis research vessel, with a navy escort, to a disputed area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, igniting a military build-up that has involved several countries, including EU members Cyprus, Greece and France.
Although the Oruç Reis returned to the Antalya port last week, the Turkish Navy issued a navigational telex (Navtex) on Friday reserving an area of the eastern Mediterranean for the Barbaros – another Turkish research ship – to conduct seismic surveying activities south of Cyprus from Sept. 20 until Oct. 20.