EU to focus on Russia at leadership summit, less time for Turkey

The European Council will focus on Russia and not go deep into Turkey-EU relations during a council leaders summit to be held later this week, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said on Monday.

“About Turkey and Cyprus, I don`t expect the European Council to go deeper on the issue of Turkey relations, because it will be very much engaged on the Russia communication,” Borrell said in response to a question during a briefing at the close of the Foreign Affairs Council that convened in Luxembourg, Cyprus Mail reported.

Europe’s leaders are set to meet on June 24 for a two-day European Council summit in Brussels.

Tensions between Turkey and the EU intensified last year due to a row between Ankara and bloc member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and access to hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.

Brussels threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over the issue in December, but EU leaders rowed back on the measures following a charm offensive led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

At a European Council meeting in March, the EU said it was “ready to engage with Turkey in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner, provided that the current de-escalation is sustained and that Turkey engages constructively.”

The bloc’s relations with Turkey are very much influenced by the Cyprus issue, so the EU will follow the situation in the Mediterranean island attentively, Borell said.

Last week, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades said that he wants “Brussels to make it clear to Turkey that there would be repercussions from its ongoing provocations,” the Cyprus Mail reported.

“EU is trying to push for the continuation of the negotiations that restarted in Geneva, because I think this is a good occasion to try to look for a solution to the Cyprus settlement,” Borrell said.

United Nations-hosted meetings on Cyprus held in Geneva in late April, after a break of almost four years, failed to find common ground between the two sides of the divided island to open formal negotiations.

The U.N. will make a fresh attempt at talks in “probably two or three months”, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a press briefing at the conclusion of the three days of informal meetings.