The European Union is “ready to use all the tools at its disposal” to change Turkey’s behavior, according to European Council President Charles Michel.
In an interview with Kathimerini, Michel, who has been in Athens since Thursday for the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Greece’s accession to the European Community, stressed that he remains cautious regarding Ankara’s intentions.
Almost two months after his visit to Ankara and one month before Turkey is due to be discussed again at the European Council Summit on June 24-25, Michel said the EU has presented to Turkish authorities a strong, common position, prepared in close cooperation with 27 member-states, and especially Greece and Cyprus.
“We sent a clear message: We are ready for a more positive agenda, but our mood is conditional, it is proportionate and reversible,” he said, adding that this means that it will be realized only if there is progress in different fields – and especially in Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and human rights.
“It will depend on Turkey’s behavior,” he said.
Asked if he could make an interim assessment on whether Turkish policy has been moving in the right direction since early April, Michel said he did not want to do so before the end of June, but noted that “in the past we have seen one step in the right direction and then two in the wrong direction.”
Turkey, he said, is a neighbor, a member of NATO, but it is fundamental for the EU to ensure that it adopts a more positive attitude toward the common European interest – including in places such as Libya, Syria and the Caucasus – and bemoaned that Ankara’s stance on these conflicts in the past has not been in line with European interests.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to fly to the city of Alexandroupoli in northeastern Greece on Sunday and will visit Komotini. The program regarding his visit to Xanthi was pending Thursday. Greek Foreign Minister Nios Dendias will host a private dinner on Sunday evening before they both head to Athens on Monday for a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion. The Turkish FM will be accompanied on his visit by a large team of journalists.
Turkish TV networks are showing great interest in Cavusoglu’s visit to the region of Thrace, which is home to Greece’s Muslim minority, but also in the press conference of the two foreign ministers after their exchanges in Ankara during Dendias’ visit last month.