Athens and Nicosia argue that the report submitted on Monday by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell is not balanced.
Cyprus in particular rejected the draft as “totally unacceptable.”
The draft statement expresses a dual approach to Ankara, but with a greater emphasis on the positive agenda.
The report has been leaked to euractiv, which has published a large portion of its contents.
Turkey showing a “calmer attitude”
“Since last December, Turkey has shown a calmer, more constructive attitude on various issues, including in its bilateral relations with several EU member states. These are positive and welcome steps forward,” the report states.
Borrell’s report, however, warns that “the process of de-escalation remains fragile” and thus calls for “more time to judge whether it is sustainable and credible and delivers lasting results, also in the light of the deteriorating domestic situation in Turkey.”
At a summit in December, EU leaders postponed once again a decision to impose sanctions on Turkey for its “unauthorized” activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Borrell’s report again suggests adopting a “carrot-and-stick” approach towards Ankara, by putting “a number of possible areas of cooperation on the table to allow for a progressive, proportionate and reversible approach”.
Those mostly economic incentives would include “a modernization and expansion of the scope of the current EU-Turkey Customs Union” and support in economic reforms as well as “increasing people-to-people contacts is a further confidence-building measure” such as the participation in the next generation of EU programs Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe.
“The Commission remains ready to advise Turkey on the specifics of the outstanding benchmarks defined in the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap,” the report also suggests.
The draft report also noted Turkey deserved more financial support for hosting millions of Syrian refugees, as well as visa-free travel to the EU, and an expanded customs union.
Sanctions still on the table
It does, however, provide some sticks in case Turkey does “not move forward constructively in developing a genuine partnership with the EU, but instead return to renewed unilateral actions or provocations.”
Those would involve “smart, scalable yet reversible restrictive measures, building on those in place” and could be expanded to include legal entities or “measures targeting other sectors important for the Turkish economy, such as a prohibition to supply of tourism services, negative travel advice by member states etc.”
Such sectoral sanctions would have to be agreed by all EU countries.
The measures are also meant to be reversible in order to “adapt to the situation and the level of threat or challenge in the best possible manner, incentivise a return to a cooperative track and avoid a negative escalation dynamic”, the report concludes.