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EU seeks extra measures to ease tensions with Turkey

European Union Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell

The EU will be looking at further options to ease tensions with Turkey, including additional listings within the sanctions framework as proposed by Cyprus, it was announced on Monday.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that he will “prepare options for further measures that could be taken” in response to Turkey’s actions in the region.

His comments came after the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels which was attended by Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Monday.

It appears that Borrell was not given the mandate to enter negotiations with Turkey and that is why other avenues are being investigated.

Notably for Cyprus, he said that: “Work will also continue on additional listings with the existing sanctions framework as requested by Cyprus.”

He stressed that the council recognised “worrying developments in the Eastern Mediterranean” and called on Turkey to create an environment conducive to de-escalation.

He clarified that Turkey`s unilateral actions must end, saying that drilling within Cyprus’ EEZ was illegal.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) will also prepare a list of options for further measures against Turkey – however it was not immediately clear what form these may take.

Asked by the Cyprus News Agency to clarify the scope of sanctions and options for dialogue, Borrell said that the council is extremely careful in using terms, noting that “sanctions are a tool and not an end in themselves”. He said that “the sovereign rights of the member states must be respected”.

“Dialogue is one thing and negotiations are another,” Borrell said, adding that the Council had instructed him to “explore new ways to reduce tensions and promote understanding”.

Borrell said that there was a long and interesting discussion “at the end of which I presented my conclusions, which were approved by the council, and will define my actions in the near future.”

He also emphasised that Turkey is an “important country” with which the EU could develop better relations but “with respect for European values”.

The discussion regarding the future of EU-Turkey relations will be taken up during the informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Berlin in August.

Hagia Sophia was also discussed, with Borrell saying that: “The council has condemned this decision [by Turkey] to convert such an emblematic monument back to a mosque, this decision will inevitably fuel distrust [and] promote renewed division.

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