LUXEMBOURG: The European Union member states united on Oct. 14 to condemn Turkey’s offensive in Syria but stopped short of imposing an arms embargo, while opening the way to sanctions over Ankara’s controversial drilling off Cyprus.
“The EU condemns Turkey’s military action which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region,” the bloc said in a joint statement at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
“Member states commit to strong national positions regarding their arms export policy to Turkey,” the statement added.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said in an interview with the Associated Press that the 28 member states “have unanimously decided to condemn – that is the verb, not concern, not worry – but to condemn in strong terms what in the end is a military attack.”
France and Germany suspended weapons sales to Turkey, a NATO ally, over the weekend, while Finland and the Netherlands said earlier, they were also stopping arms exports.
The EU exported 45 million euros ($50 million) in arms and ammunition to Turkey last year, including missiles, according to the EU’s statistics office Eurostat, with Italy the main vendor, followed by Spain, Britain and Germany.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman acknowledged Turkey’s “legitimate security interests” in the region.
“Turkey is severely threatened, again and again by terrorism,” Steffen Seibert said, speaking at a news conference in Berlin.
Seibert urged for an end to the military operation, expressing worries over a humanitarian crisis and instability in the region.
“Despite our clear differences with Turkey on this difficult issue, it is in our interest to continue our dialogue,” he stressed, amid calls by opposition parties to the government to sharpen its tone towards Ankara.__Hurriyet