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Petsas: EU taking ‘slow, albeit steady steps’ on Turkey

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The European Union is taking “slow, albeit steady steps” toward pressuring Turkey to de-escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Monday with regards to the conclusions of last week’s European Council.

Petsas said European leaders had condemned Turkish provocations against Greece and Cyprus, as well as against the bloc, while pledging to prepare additional listings on the basis of a sanctions list already in place.

Furthermore, Petsas said, the Council had invited the High Representative and the European Commission to submit a report by March 2021on EU-Turkey relations, including customs union with Ankara.

EU leaders had also urged Turkey, Petsas said, “to show consistency and continuity in the direction of de-escalation in order to make way for a restart of exploratory talks focusing on maritime zone delineation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The spokesman added that the Council had condemned Ankara’s unilateral actions in Varosha, a beach resort abandoned by Greek Cypriots fleeing Turkey’s invasion in 1974, while urging Turkey to abide by UN resolutions regarding the ethnically-split Mediterranean island. 

Finally, Petsas said, Turkey had been asked to cooperate with the EU in combating human trafficking in the Aegean.

“All these are steps in the desirable direction,” Petsas said.

“Perhaps they are slower that we would wish. But all together they resemble a lever of pressure on Turkey to end its illegal and provocative behavior,” he said.