The European Union needs to retain its calm position against developments in Turkey, while sending strong but targeted messages to Ankara, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told his peers in Brussels on Thursday.
His intervention took place in the context of the working dinner of the European Council, which discussed the state of EU-Turkish relations and the situation in Turkey.
The EU heads of state and government converged on the view that Turkey is distancing itself further from the Copenhagen criteria for its accession to the bloc, particularly in terms of democratic values and justice.
There was also concern expressed over developments within Turkey as well as over the country’s role in the region.
According to government sources Tsipras said that “the issues that concern democracy and justice in Turkey are not just matters of principle for Greece, but potentially affect the defense, the security and the public order in our own country.” It is for those reasons, he explained, that Greece has an increased interest in those issues.
Tsipras also referred extensively to Turkey’s air violations over the Aegean, stressing that this activity and Ankara’s attitude toward the Republic of Cyprus should constitute crucial matters in the EU-Turkish relations.
The prime minister added there are measures that could be taken in order to send specific messages to Ankara, but the strategic choice of the accession course of Turkey has to continue, to the benefit both of Europe and the Turkish people.
He also stressed the significance of strengthening the funding mechanism for the refugees in Turkey and noted the need for cooperation between the EU and Ankara on the refugee problem to continue.