France’s leading efforts to push for European sanctions on fellow NATO member Turkey has picked up steam, with Paris expected to propose the punitive action next month with the backing of Greece and Cyprus, but so far with lack of enthusiasm from other EU governments.
It comes after the months-long standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean over Turkish hydrocarbon exploration and drilling, which France says is a violation of Cyprus and Greece’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones.
According to Reuters, “Paris says Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has not heeded EU leaders’ warnings on Oct. 1 to back down in a dispute over gas exploration in the Mediterranean or face consequences.”
“The European Parliament on Thursday is expected to call for sanctions, decrying Erdogan’s visit earlier this month to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island of Cyprus,” Reuters continues.
It’s expected that the French sanctions would target shipping, banking, and energy sectors – all vital to Turkey’s oil and gas exploration initiatives.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issued a bit of an ultimatum at a French parliamentary hearing this week: “Confrontation or collaboration, it’s up to them,” he said.
But one unnamed EU diplomat cited in Reuters underscored that “Turkey is a key partner in many areas, so there’s no consensus in the Council (of EU governments). It is still too early” – which suggests a likely uphill battle before any European sanctions actually become a reality.
France in the past months has gone so far as to join naval and aerial exercises with the Greek and Cypriot militaries in the Mediterranean as a “warning” to Turkey. However, Erdogan has appeared undeterred.