"Today the European Council sent a clear and stern message to Turkey", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, during a press conference on Friday after the conclusion of the European Council in Brussels.
Explaining, Tsipras pointed out that the EU communique on the summit's conclusions:
- unequivocally condemned Turkish actions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly the drilling inside Cyprus' EEZ a few days ago.
- underlined the serious negative consequences of Turkey's actions for Euro-Turkish relations
- Decided to take specific measures - including targeted measures - namely, sanctions against Turkey
- invited the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to submit options for appropriate measures for the next meeting of the EU General Affairs Council in July.
"Such measures might concern sanctions against individuals or companies, the freezing of dialogue and cooperation in specific sectors and measures that may have significant economic repercussions on Turkey if it does not stop immediately its illegal activities", said Tsipras.
"It is the first time, after decades of violation of international law by Turkey that the EU, following coordinated actions by Greece and Cyprus, has so clearly and decisively condemned Turkey's actions and decided to take measures against Turkey over the violation of international law in our region", Tsipras said.
Such a clear decision that was also accompanied by targeted measures has never been taken before, not even in the period after the incident at Imia in 1996, he said.
Tsipras referred to "a serious shift in favour of our national positions, which is a confirmation of our long and successful effort to highlight the major issues in the region and to acquire strong support in the region, in the EU and internationally," noting that this was "a very important development".
Following the EU's latest decisions, Turkey must know that maintaining its current stance and attitude will have consequences and a cost, if it chooses to continue, Tsipras said.
"On our part we will continue to keep channels of communication open but we will not stop putting pressure on Turkey to cease its illegal actions and, once it has ceased, to start new talks on the Cyprus issue from the point where we left off at Crans Montana, in order to reach a fair and sustainable solution for Cyprus that cannot include guarantees and troops," he added.