EU leaders, meeting in summit in Brussels, endorsed the statement issued by EU Foreign Ministers earlier this week that condemned ‘’Turkey’s unilateral military action’’ and urged Turkey ‘’to end it, to withdraw its forces, and to respect international humanitarian law.’’
“The EU condemns Turkeyʼs unilateral military action in North East Syria which causes unacceptable human suffering, undermines the fight against Daʼesh and threatens heavily European security,” they said.
By Yossi Lempkowicz at the EU summit in Brussels
BRUSSELS—European Parliament President David Sassoli, an Italian Social-Democrat, has described Turkey’s military action in northern Syria as “an act of war carried out by a NATO state’’ and ‘’not a policing operation.’’
He stressed that ‘’the Kurdish population of north-eastern Syria, which fought bravely against the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State, is now under attack by a NATO country.”
Addressing the EU summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday, he used a tough tone on Turkey, as he reiterated the European Parliament’s call for the EU accession talks with Ankara to be suspended.”
While the Brexit deal agreed between the EU and the UK occupied most of the discussions among the 28 EU leaders as well as the journalists, Turkey was also high on the agenda in Brussels. On the same day, after meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyep Erdogan in Ankara, US Vice-President Mike Pence announced an agreement for a 120-hour break from military operations, during which the United States will facilitate the withdrawal from the safe zone of Kurdish YPG forces, who are allies of the United States but considered by Turkey to be ‘’terrorists.’’ Once this operation is complete, a permanent ceasefire should be declared, Pence said.
Turkey began its military operation in northern Syria just after US Prsident Trump announced on 6 October that he was withdrawing US forces from areas of potential conflict in the area. The Turkish attack targeted the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces which were the West’s main ally on the ground in the fight against Daesh, the terrorist group which called itself Islamic State (IS).
Vice President Pence’s visit to Turkey came off the back of severe criticism in US Congress as Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives voted overwhelming to denounce the US troop withdrawal. The White House later released a letter in which Trump warned Erdogan that he would destroy the Turkish economy if Turkey didn’t stop its military operation.
So how did the EU leaders react to the US announcement of a ”halt to all military operations” in northern eastern Syria ?
They just took note, in conclusions published on the night of Thursday to Friday, of the announcement, without elaborating.
They also endorsed the statement issued by EU Foreign Ministers earlier this week that condemned ‘’Turkey’s unilateral military action’’ and urged Turkey ‘’to end it, to withdraw its forces, and to respect international humanitarian law.’’
“The EU condemns Turkeyʼs unilateral military action in North East Syria which causes unacceptable human suffering, undermines the fight against Daʼesh and threatens heavily European security,” the EU leaders said.
Several hundred relatives of IS jihadists reportedly took advantage of the fighting to flee.
EU leaders also recalled that the member states have decided to halt arms export licensing to Turkey.
However, these member states seem to be implementing this decision in different ways. France and the Netherlands would apply it to all licences, while the United Kingdom would like an exception for research and development. Spain and Germany intend to limit the export of weapons used in fighting in Syria. For their part, Hungary could decide on a case-by-case basis, and Bulgaria, reportedly opposed to this embargo.
The European Council also condemned Turkey for its ‘’illegal drilling activities in Cyprusʼ Exclusive Economic Zone’’ and reaffirmed its solidarity with Cyprus.
EU Parliament President David Sassoli welcomed the decision to coordinate national embargoes on future sales of arms to Turkey but he expressed the need ‘’to send an unambiguous message by promoting a joint EU embargo not just on future arms shipments, but also on those already on their way.”
He added : “The EU’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey for an unacceptable action such as offshore drilling in waters near Cyprus is positive, but it is difficult to understand why the military aggression in north-eastern Syria did not prompt a similar response.”
In the meantime, a meeting of Defense Ministers from the 29 NATO member countries is due to take place in Brussels next week. Turkey is a member state of the Atlantic Alliance organization…..