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EU to debate arms exports to Turkey with NATO and U.S., Merkel says

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© Reuters. EU leaders summit in Brussels

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders plan to debate arm exports to Turkey with NATO allies and Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel mentioned on Friday, after Greece pushed for an arms embargo on Ankara.

Merkel spoke after a summit the place the EU’s 27 leaders agreed to arrange restricted sanctions on Turkish people over Ankara’s vitality exploration dispute with Greece and Cyprus, however postponed discussions on any harsher steps till March.

“We … spoke about how questions on arms exports have to be mentioned inside NATO. We mentioned that we wish to coordinate with the brand new U.S. administration about Turkey,” Merkel instructed a information convention. Many EU states are additionally members of NATO.

Merkel’s feedback underlined a hardening stance on Turkey amongst EU governments, lots of whom have up to now resisted punitive measures on Ankara, a NATO ally, candidate for EU membership and host to Syrians fleeing civil warfare who would in any other case search refuge in Europe.

However EU states have additionally grown more and more vital of Turkey’s involvement in Libya and its buy of a Russian weapons system, amongst different flashpoints.

America is already poised to impose sanctions on Turkey over these Russian purchases, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Turkey’s international ministry on Friday rejected what it referred to as the EU summit’s “biased and unlawful” strategy on the sanctions.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan referred to as on america and EU governments to cease being influenced by what he referred to as anti-Turkish lobbies however, in an unusually conciliatory tone, mentioned he believed points might be solved by dialogue.

Tensions have flared over Turkey’s determination to ship oil-and-gas drilling ships to waters off southern Cyprus the place Greek Cypriot authorities have already awarded hydrocarbon exploration rights to Italian and French corporations.

Turkey says it’s working in waters by itself continental shelf or areas the place Turkish Cypriots have rights. It has additionally repeatedly accused Greece of avoiding bilateral talks over their conflicting maritime claims and has accused the European Union of being biased in the direction of Greece and Turkey.

The EU exported solely 45 million euros ($54.53 million) price of arms and ammunition to Turkey in 2018, together with missiles, in response to EU statistics workplace Eurostat, however gross sales of plane amounted to a number of billion euros.

America, Italy and Spain have been the highest exporters of arms to Turkey from 2015-2019, in accordance the Sweden-based Stockholm Worldwide Peace Analysis Institute (SIPRI), a number one battle and armaments assume tank.

EU governments agreed in October 2019 to restrict arms gross sales to Turkey however stopped in need of a bloc-wide ban. The bloc at the moment bans arms gross sales to a number of states together with Russia, Belarus, Syria and Venezuela.

The European Union and NATO are planning to carry a summit with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he takes workplace in January.

(This story has been refiled so as to add dropped phrases in paragraph 2)

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