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Turkey warns EU against ‘language of sanctions’

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Turkey’s foreign minister on Friday warned the EU against using sanctions as Brussels demanded “tangible outcomes” from a push to repair ties strained by tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, AFP reported.

Ankara’s top diplomat, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, wrapped up two days of talks with EU chiefs aimed at easing relations after conciliatory moves from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Tensions between Brussels and Ankara reached new highs last year after Turkey repeatedly sent a ship to search for gas in disputed waters, infuriating the bloc and member states Greece and Cyprus.

EU leaders in December agreed to add more names to a sanctions black list over Turkish drilling in Cypriot waters and draw up options for tougher punishments if Ankara did not change course.

But since then the rhetoric on all sides has mellowed dramatically as Erdoğan insisted he wanted to “turn a new page” with Brussels.

In an important move, Greece and Turkey agreed to restart long-stalled exploratory talks on their maritime dispute next week.

Çavuşoğlu repeated an invitation for EU leaders to visit Ankara in a meeting with European Council president Charles Michel and said he was working on a roadmap for a “positive agenda in our relations.”

But he also insisted that the EU should hold off trying to punish Turkey.

“No results can be achieved [with the] language of sanctions,” he wrote on Twitter.

European diplomats insisted Friday that work is still ongoing to finalize the sanctions ordered by the member states in December.

The EU remains wary of Erdoğan’s overtures and insists Ankara must turn its warmer words into actions.

“Dialogue needs to produce tangible outcomes in the interest of both the EU and Turkey,” Michel tweeted after the meeting.

An EU official said Michel told Çavuşoğlu that Ankara needed to continue to refrain “from activities that might fuel tensions.”

Brussels is hoping to see progress in the talks with Turkey and has dangled the carrot of talks on updating a customs union and visa-free travel to help convince Erdoğan, the official said.

While France, Greece and Cyprus have pushed the hardest for a tough line on Turkey, other EU states led by economic powerhouse Germany have been far keener for a more diplomatic approach.

Many are anxious to keep Ankara on the EU’s side, as the union still relies on it to prevent Syrian refugees from heading into the bloc under a shaky 2016 deal.

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