Brussels (AP) – German efforts to ease relations between the EU and Turkey have failed for the time being. Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (SPD) said in Brussels on Monday that there had been “far too many provocations”.
The consequences must now be determined at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday. The talks focus mainly on punitive measures for the Turkish gas exploration near Cyprus, which is considered illegal. Greece is also calling for a blanket EU arms embargo against Turkey. However, such a step is unlikely for the time being to receive the necessary approval from all other EU states.
“Our main concern within the European Union now is to respond to what has been discussed in the European Union for a very, very long time, especially with regard to Cyprus,” Maas said after consulting with the other EU foreign ministers. In principle, Germany was of the opinion that the European Union should continue to conduct dialogue with Turkey.
At the same time, Maas was disappointed with the latest developments. “Germany in particular has done a lot of work in recent weeks to find compromises – including between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus,” he said. “Unfortunately that didn’t work.”
EU foreign affairs official Josep Borrell made a similar statement after consultations with EU foreign ministers. The Spaniard stated that the situation had deteriorated further. No one saw a major change in Turkish behavior.
The main problem in the conflict with Turkey is that Greece and Cyprus accuse Turkey of illegally exploring natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish government rejects the allegations and takes the view that the search for natural gas is legal and only takes place in sea areas belonging to the Turkish continental shelf.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey, with the longest coast in the Mediterranean, has not been able to remain a viewership of developments in the region. Ankara represents its own interests and those of the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey has said several times that it will not bow to “threats and blackmail” and that it will not allow imperialism, he said.
Erdogan also warned the EU against instrumentalization by Greece. The European Union must free itself from its “strategic blindness” as soon as possible and not allow it to be used by Greece and the Greek Cypriots as a “battering ram in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan said in a video message. He still wanted a conference with all the actors involved. “We expect our contacts not to let go of the hand that Turkey has raised in the air.”
In the EU, however, such statements are no longer taken seriously. Erdogan recently caused new problems with a visit to the coastal town of Varosha, previously inhabited by Greek Cypriots, in the former tourist town of Famagusta in Northern Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after a Greek coup and a Turkish military intervention. To the north is the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey. The Republic of Cyprus, which has been a member of the EU since 2004, only controls the south of the island.