No immediate sanction. EU leaders on Thursday (October 29th) condemned provocations and rhetoric “totally unacceptable” Ankara against France but will not decide any measure before their summit in December, announced the same day the President of the Council, Charles Michel, after a European summit by videoconference.

France wants the EU to sanction the statements of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against President Emmanuel Macron, accused of“Islamophobia” for defending the right to publish caricatures in tribute to Samuel Paty, a French teacher beheaded for showing drawings in class. Recep Tayyip Erdogan also felt that Emmanuel Macron should “do mental health exams”. He also considered that the French president was leading “a campaign of hatred against Muslims” and called for a boycott of French products.

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“We condemn the recent unilateral actions (of Turkey) in the Eastern Mediterranean, the provocations and the rhetoric, which are totally unacceptable”, said the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, in a brief intervention at the end of the press conference devoted to the presentation of European measures to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a European summit in early October, the EU decided to “work on two tracks: a positive track and a less positive track … So far Turkey has not chosen the positive path. We will have the opportunity to come back to this subject in December”, he concluded.

Relations between Turkey and France have gradually deteriorated since last year, mainly due to disagreements over Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean. The EU has adopted a dual approach with regard to Ankara: it has undertaken to improve certain forms of cooperation and to relaunch the customs union, provided that Turkey ceases its illegal drilling in Cyprus waters and confirms its willingness to dialogue with Athens.

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“If Ankara continues its illegal actions, we will use all the instruments at our disposal”, warned Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. The EU executive has been tasked with developing economic sanctions and they are ready to be “used immediately”, she had specified. EU leaders will consider “before the end of the year if positive developments have been recorded”, had specified Charles Michel in October.

But Germany, which is mediating with the Turkish president, considers for the moment inappropriate any decision on sanctions and blocks requests from other member states, several European sources told AFP.

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