EU leaders seek end to Belarus sanctions clash
The presidents and prime ministers of the European Union have been trying to unite their states’ differing views on Turkey’s relations and the possible adoption of sanctions against the Belarusian regime at a summit in Brussels. Shortly before the summit, European Council President Charles Michel stated that the European bloc intended to strive for stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and stand up for Greece and Cyprus. Meanwhile, the island state is blocking the adoption of sanctions against the Belarussian regime. It is making its agreement conditional on promoting a stricter approach to Turkey, a step that many EU countries are hesitant to take.
Although Michel initially wanted to discuss the European bloc’s relations with China at the beginning of the meeting, he decided to start with a more topical issue of Turkey, which the leaders are discussing together with Belarus’s case. However, according to EU sources, the debate is still fruitless.
“We want more stability and predictability. We stand in complete solidarity with Greece and Cyprus,” said Michel, who chairs the meetings of the heads of state and government of the EU when he arrives at today’s meeting. He indicated that he would try to get EU leaders to give more support to the Mediterranean members of the community. However, the approval of direct sanctions against Turkey cannot be expected, according to diplomats.
Nicosia demands the punishment of the people and companies responsible for Turkish exploration off Cyprus’s coast, but this is rejected by several EU states, including the presiding Germany.
“I want to emphasize that our relations with Turkey are naturally very complex and that, despite all the complications, it is in the European Union’s great interest to develop truly constructive relations,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said shortly before the meeting.
Together with some other states, including the Czech Republic, its country wants to prevent the deterioration of relations with a partner in NATO, which, within the framework of the migration agreement, helps to curb the influx of refugees into Europe. Shortly before the summit, some Turkish government politicians also called for dialogue between the EU and Ankara.
While Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his willingness to call on Ankara for dialogue before the summit, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis has indicated that he does not intend to back down from a stricter demand.
“I expect the European Council to take a strong and decisive stance, ending the diplomacy of warships,” Anastasiadis wrote before the Twitter meeting, referring to military patrols in the Mediterranean.
Before the summit, the Baltic states’ leaders, in particular, called for the summit to approve sanctions against Belarusian officials agreed upon a month ago by countries other than Cyprus. “It is inconceivable that we did not react to the situation at all,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told reporters before the meeting.
If politicians fail to break the Cyprus veto with the promise of a tougher stance on Turkey, they will probably only agree on a call to end violence against Belarusian demonstrators and hold new elections.