European heads of states and governments met in Brussels on Friday in a summit which was to address a range of issues, from fishery rights and Brexit talks to measures to deal with the coronavirus.
However, at the urging of Prime Minister Mitsotakis, the Summit was also tasked with a new problem to grapple with this week — the ongoing, seemingly unending provocations of Turkey in the Mediterranean.
At the conclusion of the Summit, the European Council released a statement saying that it “reaffirms the conclusions of October 2, 2020 and strongly deplores Turkey’s new unilateral and provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including recent research activities,” in accordance with the views expressed at the Summit.
The statement continued, saying “The European Council calls on Turkey to respect UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789, stresses the importance of the Varosha regime, and reiterates its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.
“The European Council further calls on Turkey to reverse these actions and work to reduce tensions in a consistent and systematic manner. It will continue to monitor the issue closely in order to follow up on its conclusions of October 2, 2020.”
After the Summit ended, EC president Charles Michel stated in a news conference “We plan a summit in December. And we have planned, indeed, to tackle again and to assess the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and in Turkey.”
France and Germany said earlier this week that Turkey had only “weeks” to revise its stance and stop what they also said were provocations, but declined to give as strong of an ultimatum as Athens and Nicosia would like.
French President Emmanuel Macron said after the summit that leaders had reaffirmed support for Greece and Turkey, but were also open to talks with Ankara.
Cyprus is frustrated that, in addition to the Turkish exploration ship off a Greek island, Turkey has sent another vessel to Cyprus’s economic zone to conduct seismic surveys.
During the EU meetings, it was reported by Reuters and onlookers in the region that Turkey had indeed tested a missile at the site which it had previously stated would be the launch site for a testing of the S-400 missiles that it had bought from Russia last year.
Turkey had purchased the S-400s despite the repeated urgings of US and NATO leaders, since any use of a Russian weapons system would violate the terms of NATO agreements and compromise the information contained in the weapons systems of its allied countries.
Threats of sanctions and even the offering of another US weapons system did not sway Turkey from the purchase, however, and it was then excluded from participation in the American F-35 aircraft program.
As he arrived at the Summit, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa told reporters “I sincerely hope that we will be able to strongly and unanimously support Greece and Cyprus against the newest provocations made by Turkey.”
Earlier this week, France and Germany had given conditions to Turkey, saying that it had had only “weeks” to change its position and cease its continued provocations — but this included no provisions or set down as strong of an ultimatum as Greece and Cyprus would have liked.
However, before the meeting a senior EU diplomat was quoted as saying “There will be an effort to give a strong warning (to Turkey).”
Cyprus has been under pressure recently from Turkey on a number of fronts, including the fact that it has announced it would reopen the once fenced-off no man’s land of Varosha and that seismic research vessels looking for oil and gas have been sent by Turkey into Cyprus’ territorial waters.