President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday they had agreed that the joint conclusions of the European Council meeting this week should be in line with the so-called Borrell report.

Anastasiades and Mitsotakis were speaking after they met in Athens where the Cypriot president travelled to attend the 200th anniversary events to mark Greek independence. He said there was a convergence of views between Nicosia and Athens on the European Council agenda where EU-Turkey relations are the main focus.

The joint conclusions should be compatible with the report of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Anastasiades said. “I want to believe that a consensus will be reached that will allow Ankara to reflect that if it wants to keep pace with the EU, it must accept the conditions and principles of Europe for peace to prevail in the Mediterranean,” he added.

Mitsotakis, in his comment said: “We also agreed that at tomorrow’s summit we must insist on a dual approach towards Turkey. We welcome the content of the Borrell report and stress the need for the conclusions to move in this direction.”

In his report circulated on Monday, Borrell said normalisation of EU-Turkey relations would remain extremely challenging in the absence of a solution to the Cyprus issue.

The report notes that Turkey’s non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus continues to lead to the blockage of different paths of cooperation. “The Cyprus settlement issue is a core element of Turkey’s strong disagreements with the EU in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

According to reports from Brussels, the EU is ready to deepen trade ties with Turkey but will maintain the threat of economic sanctions if Ankara moves against the bloc’s interests, according to the draft statement.

The draft, seen by Reuters says EU leaders will “work on a mandate for the modernisation of the customs union”, referring to a 1995 EU-Turkey trade deal that could be expanded to include services, public procurement and farm goods.

The leaders’ summit is expected to build on Borrell’s report, Reuters said. EU leaders will also threaten sanctions in the event of “renewed provocations or unilateral actions in breach of international law”, according to the draft statement. In December EU leaders had proposed asset freezes and travel bans over Turkey’s “unauthorised drilling activities” for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean. But a more constructive tone from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan this year prompted the EU to halt work on those sanctions.

“It is up to Turkey to continue the de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean and to prove that this is not a manoeuvre,” said Mitsotakis on Wednesday.

“We hope that Turkey stays on a European path. Otherwise, there should be sanctions,” he added, stressing that the goal was to resume negotiations on the Cyprus issue on the basis of the bi-zonal bicommunal federation and UN Security Council resolutions. “Claims for a two-state solution are outside the framework of the EU and the UN and are rejected,” he added.
“We wish good relations with our neighbours, always with open communication channels. But for a sincere dialogue based on international law, the rules of peaceful coexistence and good neighbourliness, without threats, without challenges, without aggressive actions. As I have stressed many times, Greece has not frightened anyone, but neither is it afraid of anyone. She remains honest without being naive.”

Anastasiades said despite some walkbacks by Ankara, Turkish provocations remain an issue for Cyprus, especially the ongoing opening up of Varosha, the fenced-off area of Famagusta contrary to UN resolutions. He said he and Mitsotakis had also discussed the upcoming five-party conference on Cyprus to take place in Geneva next month. The president said the Greek Cypriot side’s position would not deviate from UN parameters and EU principles.

“I want to believe that a consensus will be reached that will allow… without ignoring the need for good relations with Turkey… that will allow Ankara to reflect that finally, if they want to keep pace with Europe, they must be ready and adapt to principles and the values ​​and conditions that the EU sets in order to achieve peace, and a normalisation of relations that will allow peace to prevail in the Mediterranean,” he added.

Anastasiades said he was delighted to be in Greece to celebrate the 200th anniversary of independence where he will attend the main events on Thursday.