NEWS

Contacts intensify in runup to summit

contacts-intensify-in-runup-to-summit

With the European Council just a little more than a week away, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias have embarked on a veritable diplomatic marathon with the aim of further building a solid framework of positions with regard to Turkey. 

To this end, Mitsotakis spoke on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron, while earlier he participated in a teleconference with European Council President Charles Michel, as well as the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia – Mateusz Morawiecki, Janez Jansa and Igor Matovic.

In what was described as a laconic announcement, the PM’s office said the discussion between Mitsotakis and Macron had as its objective the preparation for the European Council but also issues of “bilateral cooperation,” which observers interpreted as meaning they talked about the Recovery Fund but mainly the attitude of Paris and Athens to Turkey as well as that of the EU. Bilateral issues also included armaments.

As Kathimerini has already reported, the basic scenario is the preparation of a list of sectoral sanctions against Turkey, which will be on the table and ready for activation in case Ankara’s behavior deteriorates in the coming months.

The exact areas that these sanctions would possibly target are under discussion, as countries such as Spain, for example, have significant exposure to Turkey. Once again, Germany is seen to be in the middle of two conflicting views that are expected to clash at the European Council.

At the same time, Athens is also insisting on the need for an embargo on offensive weapons, such as the German-built Type-214 submarines that Ankara has ordered from Berlin which could be used against Greece in case of a crisis. Germany’s Green Party does not disagree with the cessation of arms exports to Turkey and there are countries that are positive to such a scenario, most notably the Netherlands. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed Turkey for opposing the principles and operation of NATO and undermining its cohesion during a foreign ministers’ teleconference, according to diplomatic sources. 

Pompeo referred to Ankara’s “provocative” activities in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, adding that the Turkish acquisition of the S-400 missile system was a “gift to Russia” from a NATO ally, the sources said. He also said that the military “deconfliction mechanism” agreed between Athens and Ankara in October is not working because of Turkey.