EU imposes new Turkey sanctions

At its summit on Thursday the EU decided to impose new sanctions against Turkey in reaction to Turkey's unauthorised gas explorations off the coast of Cyprus. Individuals and companies involved in the explorations now face entry bans and risk having their assets frozen. However, the EU stopped short of imposing sanctions on entire economic sectors. Commentators say Turkey has got off lightly.

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Daily Sabah (TR) /

Brussels needs Ankara

The EU would be well advised not to mess with Turkey, the pro-government Daily Sabah says:

“Regardless of its EU membership status, Ankara is among the players that stand to shape Europe's future. A quick look at the problems of irregular migration and Islamophobia alone attests to the impracticality of excluding Turkey from Europe - nevermind the existing and potential crises in the Balkans, Eastern Europe or North Africa. Also, bear in mind that Europe cannot possibly manage European Muslims without Turkey's contributions. For those reasons, ideologically charged campaigns cannot suppress the Ankara factor.”

To Vima (GR) /

Positive pressure would be more effective

To Vima believes the EU is currently not in a position to impose effective sanctions on Turkey, and calls for a change of course:

“If European governments were not always afraid of the far right being successful in elections and pursued a more rational immigration policy, Turkey would no longer be able to blackmail them with the refugee issue. And then it would be much easier for European governments to consider the possibility of real sanctions. And if European governments were to have a real rather than a sham debate about Turkey's prospects of membership - if not accession, then improved relations - then they could also put the necessary 'positive' pressure on Turkey to change its stance.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Why Cyprus is not running any risks

After its bad experience with its last call for sanctions Nicosia is staying quiet this time, observes the Cyprus Mail:

“The government appears to have lost its enthusiasm for sanctions, foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides, their biggest champion a few months ago, conceding recently they were not an end in themselves. Is this because the government was burned the last time, when it stepped up the sanctions' rhetoric and delivered nothing? ... Another explanation is that it may have realised Cyprus had nothing practical to gain from a few more names on the sanctions list; on the contrary, this could make the resumption of Cyprus talks more difficult. ... At least this time, Anastasiades has avoided raising expectations and making promises he cannot deliver.”

T24 (TR) /

Go on a diplomatic offensive instead of making trouble

Ex-diplomat Oğuz Demiralp recommends a new strategy vis-à-vis Turkey on T24:

“Somehow, we have not been able to explain our problem so far. We can always accuse the other side of not wanting to understand us anyway, but for once we should get our own affairs in order before we attack the others. The policy of muscle-flexing may be profitable in domestic politics, but in international relations it misses its target. A diplomatic offensive is what is needed now. Offer explanations. Make proposals. Try to make friends. ... For example, no one can persuade me to agree with the Greek argument that the island of Meis, with its surface area of ten kilometres, has an exclusive economic zone of 40,000 square kilometers and that this is international law.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Don't back down now!

Athens and Nicosia must firmly defend their claims this time, Phileleftheros stresses:

“They have the right and the duty to do so, because they never objected to improving Turkey's relations with the EU, but on the contrary blindly supported it. Now, however, they must not agree without objections to the German presidency's desire to upgrade the customs union and facilitate trade between the EU and Turkey (which was also the issue in the October decisions) without insisting that this is only possible if Turkey implements the existing customs union agreement with all member states and especially with the Republic of Cyprus, which has been pending since 2005.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Clear words are needed

The EU leaders must take a clear position regarding Turkey, the Süddeutsche Zeitung urges:

“That does not mean the EU must approve the all or nothing positions of the Greeks and Cypriots in the dispute over borders in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, a solution must be negotiated diplomatically or settled in court. Trying to resolve it through gunboat diplomacy is unacceptable. If the EU wants to be taken seriously by the Turks, it has to take serious action. Yes, Europe needs Turkey. But Turkey also needs Europe. Soon, a new president will take over in the United States, and there are many bones of contention between Washington and Ankara. Erdoğan may well need a few friends in Europe.”