The heads of state and government of the European Union decided at a meeting in Brussels how to react to what they consider "provocative" actions of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. The summit sent another ultimatum to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but refrained from imposing specific sanctions. EU leaders are divided.
Greece and Cyprus, in whose economic zone Turkey is conducting geological exploration, as well as France, are calling on the EU for a strong response, including sectoral restrictive measures and an arms embargo. And Germany, Spain and Italy are leaning towards soft pressure on Turkey.
But why does the European Union not demonstrate unity towards Turkey? An employee of the Austrian Institute for European Studies and Security believes that some countries prioritize their economic benefits, as is often the case in EU foreign policy.
“Italy is in a difficult situation. Her attention is riveted on Libya. The Italian energy company ENI, effectively controlled by the government, controls 45% of oil and gas production. All Libyan natural gas goes to Italy. Therefore, ENI and Italy have great interests in Libya and are forced to follow Turkey, ”says Michael Tanchum.
Professor Tanchum added that Malta has entered into military agreements with Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord in the hope of stopping the smuggling of migrants, drugs and weapons across the sea.
“One of the biggest problems in Spain is that it is highly dependent on Turkish debt. The Turkish lira is getting weaker. Spain loses the most from this. In Turkey, she has at least $ 63 billion in loans. This is more than France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain combined, ”concluded the Austrian expert.
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe count on Turkey as a NATO ally.
The leader of the largest political faction in the European Parliament is disappointed with the results of the summit last week. German Manfred Weber regrets that the introduction of tougher sanctions, and not only against Turkey, requires the consent of all EU members.
“The European Council made a decision against Turkey, but not strong enough. Therefore, the credibility of the European Union is at stake. It is obvious that the principle of unanimity in making such decisions blocks the entire power of the European Union. Individual interests did not allow us to go further. This applies not only to measures against Turkey, but also in relation to Belarus and other issues, ”Weber said.
Now EU leaders are waiting for the inauguration of Joe Biden, so that they can coordinate their actions against Turkey with the United States and enjoy the support of the new president. A decision on sanctions can be made in March.