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Greece wants EU to look at fully suspending customs union with Turkey (updated)

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias Meets With His Egyptian Counterpart Sameh Shoukry, In Athens
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias

Greece is asking the European Union to examine the possibility of fully suspending customs union with Turkey, it emerged on Tuesday, as Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said discussions on its customs union with the bloc have been suspended.

According to reports by the Athens News Agency, in a letter to the European Commissioner for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that Ankara continues to unilaterally violate the EU-Turkey customs union by adopting tariffs, legislative and equivalent measures not foreseen under the agreement.

In this context, Dendias called on the European Commission to immediately consider the adoption of further measures.

He also stressed that as a message of disapproval for Turkey’s ongoing delinquent behaviour against the European Union, the possibility of a complete suspension of the EU-Turkey customs union should be considered.

Nicosia and Athens have been calling for stricter measures on Ankara due to its constant provocative moves in the region aimed at questioning the two EU member states’ sovereignty.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said later that discussions on the Customs Union with Turkey have been frozen as per previous conclusions of the European Council.

Speaking to Sigma TV, Christodoulides said that a meeting of the EU-Turkey joint committee that was to take place on Tuesday to discuss the existing customs union, was called off on Greece’s and Cyprus’ demand.

“The EU has informed Turkey, also based on the conclusions of the latest European Council (EUCO) that this meeting cannot take place and that all will depend on developments based on the EUCO’s October 2 conclusions,” Christodoulides said.

He explained that at the moment there is no discussion on the review of the existing Customs Union with Turkey or on the opening of chapters for Turkey’s accession process.

He pointed out that earlier in the month, the EU leaders had agreed to launch a positive political EU-Turkey agenda with a specific emphasis on the modernisation of the Customs Union and trade facilitation, people to people contacts, high-level dialogues, continued cooperation on migration issues, in line with the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement. This however would be implemented provided Turkey made constructive efforts to stop illegal activities that affect Greece and Cyprus.

“So, any development that may take place solely depends on the way Turkey will act based on these EU conclusions,” Christodoulides said.

The EU leaders are expected to discuss EU-Turkey relations and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean in December. In the meantime, they called last week on Ankara to deescalate tensions and deplored renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, including recent exploratory activities off Cyprus and Greece.

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