EU leaders will today convene in Brussels for a meeting that will focus on the ongoing dispute between Greece and Turkey.
After a months-long showdown between the two NATO members in East Mediterranean waters, Greece and Turkey agreed to resume talks last week. Turkey, which for the past few months had insisted on maintaining its gas drilling activities in maritime zones claimed by Greece, was seemingly forced into entering negotiations by the threat of EU sanctions.
For months, France, Greece and Cyprus have called on their fellow EU members to endorse threatening Turkey with EU sanctions. If Turkey hadn’t paused its drilling activities and voiced its willingness to engage in talks ahead of today’s EU meeting, the threat of sanctions may have become a reality. Now, though the sanctions threat is not as immediate, unless Turkey concedes to an agreement favourable to Greece—a highly unlikely scenario—economic penalties will still be on the table.
However, the topic of sanctioning Turkey is highly contentious in the EU. Besides the deep economic ties that bind various European states to Ankara, Turkey is currently bearing the brunt of the European migration crisis by hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees within its borders. If EU sanctions are imposed, Turkey is very likely to allow these refugees to cross into Europe.
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Esra is an analyst on the Current Developments division and a member of The Daily Brief’s research team. She specialises in political and security issues with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa.