Greece, Cyprus want ‘credible implementation’ of EU dual-track approach to Turkey

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The European Union must ensure “credible implementation” of a dual-track approach to relations with Turkey, mixing the prospect of deeper trade ties with a threat of economic sanctions, Greece’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

EU leaders are set at a summit this week to spell out its proposed offer of closer economic links, mixed with threats if Ankara moves against the bloc’s interests, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

But Greece is at loggerheads with Turkey over a number of issues, including the ethnically divided island of Cyprus, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discussed the EU stance on Turkey with Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades on Wednesday. Both Greece and Cyprus are members of the EU.

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“We agreed with the (Cypriot) President that at tomorrow ‘s European Council our two countries, as well as the union as a whole, must insist on the credible implementation of the dual track approach,” Mitsotakis said after meeting Anastasiades on the sidelines of bicentennial celebrations of Greece’s independence from the Ottoman empire in 1821.

Thursday’s EU summit will build on a report by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell and the executive European Commission which was released on Tuesday and calls for “modernization and expansion of the scope of the current EU-Turkey customs union.”

Anastasiades said any decision or announcement at the summit “should be fully consistent with the report of the European Commission and Borrell.”

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan watches Turkish drilling ship, Fatih, in the background, as he speaks in Istanbul, August 21, 2020. (AP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan watches Turkish drilling ship, Fatih, in the background, as he speaks in Istanbul, August 21, 2020. (AP)

Greece’s relations with Turkey deteriorated last year over territorial issues and energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup in 1974.

In an attempt to ease tensions, Turkey has withdrawn its research ships from the Cypriot sea zones and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“This fact is not insignificant. However, it remains to be seen whether it will last,” Mitsotakis said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged the EU before the summit to take steps to improve the positive momentum in ties.

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