Gas dispute: EU preparing sanctions against Turkey

The EU is drawing up a list of potential sanctions against Turkey in a bid to convince it to restrict gas drilling in the Mediterranean to its own territorial waters. Athens and Nicosia have said they will only agree to sanctions against Belarus at the EU summit on 24 September if sanctions are also imposed on Ankara. What are the reasons for the lenient approach towards Turkey?

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Público (PT) /

An explosive situation

Lawyer Paula Teixeira da Cruz stresses in Público that Europe must not simply stand by and watch Erdoğan's aggressive behaviour in the Mediterranean:

“With the arrogance typical of a populist dictator, Erdoğan had no problem declaring in a grotesque challenge to Greece and the EU that Turkey will push through its aggressive position because it has no problems when it comes to 'sacrificing martyrs'. The absence of a strong and structured European reaction with the imposition of sanctions on Turkey is making the Islamic-fascist dictator more defiant. ... An incident can occur at any time that leads to a war that the European Union cannot watch impatiently and calmly as two of its member states (Greece and Cyprus) are attacked by Turkey.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Germany always takes the same side

Berlin has its reasons for not allowing sanctions to be imposed on Ankara, columnist Xenia Tourki writes in Phileleftheros:

“On the one hand there's the large Turkish minority in Germany, and on the other hand Germany's economic interests in Turkey. ... In combination with Erdoğan's threat to 'open the gates' for millions of immigrants and refugees, this is what is making Merkel put the interests of a third country above those of two member states. German-Turkish political, military and economic relations go all the way back to the German and Ottoman empires. ... The two countries have close geopolitical ties, a fact confirmed time and again whenever Germany has to choose and takes Turkey's side.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Turkey is to be punished

The West sees progressive Turkey as a disruptive factor in the otherwise autocratic Middle East, Daily Sabah comments:

“Western countries have not been supporting democratic countries but nondemocratic actors and regimes in the Middle East. [They have seen the] rise of ultranationalist, far-rightist and neofascist actors that dominate most Western countries and consider Muslim populations and Muslims countries as the main enemy of the West. Therefore, the current Western governments intend to punish Turkey, which is seen as the leader of the Muslim world.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

Ankara must turn to the West once more

Yetkin Report believes that Turkey can only win if it makes peace with Europe:

“Some of the Islamic, nationalist and neo-Ottoman groups that form the basis of the AKP-MHP government bloc will no doubt be flattered that the EU foreign affairs commissioner counts Turkey, along with Russia and China, among the powers that want to revive former empires. ... But in the past, both during the era of the Ottoman Empire and that of the Turkish Republic, Turkey has always risen when it turned its face to the West and descended when it turned to the East. It must not be forgotten that the only national programme ever approved by the Turkish parliament is the goal of securing EU membership.”

Delfi (LT) /

The train always takes time to get going

Those who accuse the EU of inaction and demand a quick decision on sanctions have failed to understand how the EU functions, says political scientist Linas Kojala in Delfi:

“Criticism of its inefficiency is justified, but the EU is not a state. ... Although the EU has been imposing sanctions for almost three decades, and the number of countries and people being punished is growing, this still requires a unanimous decision by all 27 members. The EU train does not leave until everyone agrees. ... This is why the discussions in the EU are often paradoxical. On the one hand, many critics warn against turning the EU into a federation, a superstate that threatens the sovereignty of individual countries. On the other hand this does not prevent the very same critics from criticising the inefficiency of the EU.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Nato and the EU should work together

Nato can't take sides in the gas dispute because both countries are members. The EU, on the other hand, is siding with its member state Greece. This is devastating, Jutarnji list believes:

“To be major players in the world, both Nato and the EU would have to have a firm and united political opinion. This is not the case at the moment, and this also poses a problem for relations with third countries, some of which, for example Russia, have gone from being 'strategic partners' to 'strategic opponents' for both the EU and Nato. ... To be successful, Nato and the EU must work closely together. After all, almost all the EU member states are also Nato members, and those that are not are partners. ... The EU and Nato must also work to overcome differences between member states and define common interests and values.”

Ta Nea (GR) /

Not real de-escalation

The Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis returned to the port of Antalya on the weekend. But this doesn't mean Greece should drop its guard, Ta Nea warns:

“The continuity and dedication to de-escalation that Greece seeks is the only way to determine whether Ankara is simply making a tactical move to escape intense and mounting international pressures. Turkey also wants to avert possible EU sanction at the ...24-25 September summit. The conflicting statements of various Turkish officials understandably are maintaining a climate of suspicion. If the crisis of the last two months is part of a strategic plan, then there will be a revival of Turkish provocations. The Oruc Reis will remain docked in Antalya as long as Erdogan wants to appear conciliatory. The road to dialogue may prove to be exceptionally long.”