EU in a bind over Turkey sanctions after Erdoğan charm offensive

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put the EU in a quandary over whether to impose further sanctions on Turkey after he started a diplomatic charm offensive, Politico reported on Tuesday.

Erdoğan is trying to rebuild ties with some EU countries that have argued for tough action against his country, such as Greece and France, Politico said. Erdoğan started the initiative at a time when he is also seeking to turn over a new page with the United States under incoming president Joe Biden.

The EU’s leaders unanimously agreed in December to add the names of more Turkish officials to a sanctions list, including top managers at the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), who authorised drilling for natural gas off Cyprus.

Greece, Cyprus and France have presented a new list of evidence against individuals and entities to sanction ahead of a meeting of the EU’s leaders in March, diplomats say, according to Politico.

Diplomatic activity between Turkey and EU countries in recent days has been intense. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Ankara on Monday, welcoming “signs of détente” from Turkey. Ankara and Athens have also agreed to sit down for preliminary talks on Jan. 25 to help resolve a spat over territory in the Mediterranean.  

Turkey is expected to step up its diplomatic overtures to the EU when Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visits Brussels on Thursday and Friday. He will hold talks with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, European Council President Charles Michel and other top officials, Politico said.

"They want to trust it (Turkey) because they don't want to do anything," said a senior EU diplomat, according to the news website.