European leaders, meeting in Brussels, agreed this morning to proceed with sanctions against Turkey due to their “unilateral and provocative” actions in the eastern Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus, which are to be decided during the Portuguese presidency of the EU.

After a long debate that began at dawn, the European Council invites the EU Council to expand the (few) ongoing “restrictive measures” aimed at Turkey’s illegal gas exploration activities in eastern Mediterranean waters, and mandates the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, to prepare a report on “the evolution of the situation” and which contemplates a possible reinforcement of the sanctions framework, “to be considered at the latest at the March 2021 European Council”.

Diplomatic sources explained that the Council of the EU, at the level of foreign ministers, is invited to propose, “in the coming weeks”, new individuals and companies to add to the short list of sanctions currently in force, so that sanctions can be reinforced within months if Turkey maintains its stance, in a process of gradual tightening of punitive measures.

The discussion today between EU heads of state and government was, as expected, complex, as there are differences between the 27 on the degree of harshness in the response to Ankara in defense of two of its member states, Greece and Cyprus, who have long claimed a “strong pulse” and solidarity from their partners.

The process will thus ‘enter’ the agenda of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU, which begins within three weeks, on January 1, 2021.

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