Turkey continued to give confusing messages to the European Union in its dispute over the Eastern Mediterranean ahead of this week’s EU Summit, with some suggesting Ankara might welcome a few cosmetic sanctions to deflect attention from its deteriorating economy.
Although EU leaders are preparing to discuss sanctions against Turkey on Dec. 10-11, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will instead choose to visit Baku for a two-day trip on Dec. 9-10. The trip has created speculation that Turkey actually wants the bloc to impose some measures so that it can blame the bloc for its worsening economy.
Ahead of his trip, Erdogan kept up his war of words with French President Emmanuel Macron. “Macron is trouble for France. With Macron, France is experiencing a very, very dangerous period. I hope that France will get rid of Macron as soon as possible," Erdogan said Dec. 4.
Not everyone in Ankara, however, expects the European Union to take action against Turkey – at least not yet. “I don’t expect sanctions under the German term presidency [which ends Dec. 31] or before President-elect Joe Biden takes office in the United States [on Jan. 20, 2021],” said a Foreign Ministry source on condition of anonymity.
Ahead of the summit, the French and Turkish foreign ministers are expected to speak by phone on Dec. 8.
The week had started with positive messages from Ankara, as Turkey’s main seismic exploration vessel, Oruc Reis, returned to port from disputed Mediterranean waters on Nov. 30 amid the start of the Medusa 10 exercise.
The aeronautical exercise usually brings together Greece, Greek Cyprus and Egypt, but France and the United Arab Emirates also participated this year.
“We are not afraid of sanctions. We are determined to resist them,” a high-level Turkish diplomat told ANKA on condition of anonymity. The source also accused France, Greece and Greek Cyprus of acting together against Turkey in the European Union.
On Dec. 6, Ankara accused Athens of closing the doors to dialogue on military issues and said Greece hadn’t been attending NATO military official talks since Oct. 9.