France pushes Turkey sanctions as Macron twists the knife – tensions with EU soar

Turkey will make ‘no concessions’ over waters warns Erdogan

The French President has also signalled his willingness to work with the incoming Joe Biden administration to impose restrictions in response to the NATO ally’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems last year. Tensions flared in August when Ankara sent a seismic exploration ship, the Oruc Reis, into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and also in waters claimed by Greece.

The EU, spearheaded by Germany, has been trying to negotiate a settlement but without success.

Thursday’s EU summit ordered Josep Borrell, who as High Representative is the bloc’s foreign policy supreme, to present a report to the next summit, in March “on the state of play concerning the EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations and on instruments and options on how to proceed, including on the extension and the scope” of the sanctions.

Such measures would enable the EU to target companies and vessels involved in the drilling activities, which Greece and Cyprus say are being undertaken within their waters.

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The EU is understood to have hardened its stance in response to demands by Mr Macron.

In the meantime, the bloc agreed a summit statement that paves the way to punish individuals accused of planning or taking part in what the bloc says is unauthorised drilling off Cyprus.

The steps did not go far enough for Greece, with envoys saying the country expressed frustration that the EU was hesitant to target Turkey’s economy over the hydrocarbons dispute, as Germany, Italy and Spain pushed to give diplomacy more time.

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Nevertheless Mr Macron said: “Europe has shown its capacity to stand firm towards Turkey by adopting sanctions, so it ends its unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean.

“We gave a chance to Turkey last October, we reached out to them, imposed conditions and we, unanimously, noticed that Turkey continued its provocative actions.”

The United States is poised to impose sanctions on Turkey over its investment in Russian materiel – a move which Mr Macron also indicated support for.

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He said: “We also spoke about how questions about arms exports must be discussed within NATO.

“We said that we want to coordinate with the new US administration about Turkey.”

Speaking after the summit, Mr Erdogan said “reasonable countries” in the EU had thwarted efforts against Turkey.

He added: “Our rights must be granted. There are now many rights that EU member states must grant Turkey.

“Reasonable countries in the EU thwarted this game by showing a positive stance.”

Referring to the US measures, which would be imposed via the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), he said: “For America to get up and confront Turkey with a matter like CAATSA is disrespectful to a very important NATO partner.

“After the US transfer of power we will no doubt see the trend much more clearly. So it is for us to be patient and see.”

Mr Macron and Mr Erdogan have been at loggerheads recently, with Mr Erdogan saying he hoped France would “get rid of Mr Macron soon”.

The French President countered by suggesting Turkey was an “authoritarian” nation.

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