Euro­pean Union na­tions com­mit to arms ex­port ban against Turkey

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - RAF CASERT

LUX­EM­BOURG — Euro­pean Union na­tions vented out­rage Mon­day at Turkey’s mil­i­tary of­fen­sive in north­ern Syria against the Kurds and joined France and Ger­many in ban­ning arms sales to Ankara, a rare move against a NATO ally for many of them.

Many EU for­eign min­is­ters were look­ing be­yond a strong state­ment con­demn­ing the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion that has desta­bi­lized the whole re­gion and wanted to make sure their move would carry some sting.

They also pre­pared sanc­tions against Turk­ish com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als in­volved in gas drilling in east Mediter­ranean wa­ters where EU-mem­ber Cyprus has ex­clu­sive eco­nomic rights and has li­censed Euro­pean en­ergy com­pa­nies to carry out a hy­dro­car­bons search. The sanc­tions, which Cypriot of­fi­cials said may in­clude an as­set freeze, travel bans and a sales ban on ma­te­rial used in drilling, could be im­ple­mented at short no­tice. France and Cyprus are con­duct­ing naval ma­noeu­vres there now.

Over the years, Turkey has be­come in­creas­ingly less de­pen­dent on Euro­pean na­tions for its de­fence needs and it was un­clear what the im­pact of such a mea­sure would be be­yond ap­ply­ing diplo­matic pain.

“There is a strong com­mit­ment by all mem­bers of the coun­cil to take the ac­tions re­quired to stop sell­ing arms to Turkey,” Josep Bor­rell, the Span­ish for­eign min­is­ter who is slated to be­come EU for­eign pol­icy chief next month, told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Re­la­tions be­tween the bloc and Turkey un­der Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan have steadily wors­ened over the years, es­pe­cially af­ter he likened some Ger­man moves to Nazi prac­tices.

And even though both sides agreed upon a deal in 2016 to stop mi­grants from trav­el­ling west­ward from Turkey to the Euro­pean main­land, Er­do­gan is now wield­ing that like a cud­gel. Since his op­er­a­tion in north­ern Syria be­gan last week, he has sought to quell Eu­rope crit­i­cism of it by warn­ing that he could “open the gates and send 3.6 mil­lion refugees your way.”

Dutch For­eign Min­is­ter Stef Blok said Mon­day that “we should not cave in to black­mail.”

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