Possible EU sanctions on Turkey ‘too little, too late’ - analyst

European Union sanctions may be “too little, too late” to change Turkey’s direction, political analyst Salem Al Ketbi said in an article for the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. 

The EU is currently considering imposing sanctions on Turkey over tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where Greece and Cyprus have accused Ankara of violating their maritime borders to explore for natural gas. 

But Ketbi said unless the EU took a strong stand, Turkey’s economic problems could see President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refuse to back down.

Turkey’s slide into “the economic doldrums will get (Erdoğan) to make more provocations over the coming period, unless there is a firm European standpoint to put them off,” the analyst said.

“Erdogan hopes to gain popular support to offset his waning popularity at home and divert attention from the nosediving Turkish lira.”

Sanctions would pile further pressure on the Turkish economy as it struggles to cope with the impact of COVID-19. But the EU has postponed making a final decision until December, a possible strategic mistake according to Ketbi. 

“Erdogan does not perceive European patience with a conscious political vision. He sees it as a sign of weakness and pursues his provocation,” he said. 

Ketbi said Erdoğan had already used the Syrian refugee issue to pressure the EU into providing more money to prevent an influx of refugees onto European shores. 

“Turkey is holding the EU ransom over refugees and other issues,” he said.