The European Union Threatens to Impose Sanctions on Turkey

Hülya Karahan
Production Editor

European Union governments have threatened sanctions against Turkey over the military offensive in Syria, rejecting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s warning to open doors and send 3.6 million refugees to Europe if they do not support him.

“We will in no way accept that refugees are a weapon and used to blackmail us,” said Donald Tusk, president of the Council of Europe, who chairs the EU summits.

The European Union, which Turkey is still formally aspiring to join, condemned the Ankara attack, but the bloc resents Erdogan’s threats to send refugees to Europe.

On Thursday, Erdoğan renewed his threat to send up to 3.6 million Syrian refugees in his country to Europe if European countries described his army’s incursion into northern Syria as “occupation.”

Turkey has stepped up air and artillery strikes in northeastern Syria.

The European Union’s summit next week will discuss sanctions against Turkey for its actions in Syria, French Minister of State for European Affairs Emily Dumontshalan said on Friday.

“It will be discussed next week in the European Council. It is definitely on the table,” she told France Inter radio.

“We will not stand idly by in the face of a shocking situation for civilians and for the SDF and for the stability of the region,” Dumchalan said.

A de-escalation of renewed conflict in northern Syria is “absolutely essential,” the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday. His comments follow the launch of airstrikes and a ground offensive by Turkey on Wednesday just days after the United States announced it would pull its troops out of Syria.

Speaking to journalists in Copenhagen, the UN chief said that he did not “believe in military solutions for the Syrian problem, also for any other problem in the world. I always strongly believe in political solutions.”
He also expressed concern over the humanitarian situation and civilian displacement.

At the initiative of the United States, UN Security Council members are discussing a statement calling on Turkey to return to diplomacy, sources said on Thursday.

The move comes after the Europeans failed, during an emergency session of the Security Council on Thursday morning, to push all members of the Council to adopt a statement expressing “deep concern”, and calls on Ankara to “stop” the attack on northern Syria.

France, Germany, Belgium and Britain had to read a statement individually, similar to the United States, which also drafted a separate statement saying it “did not in any way support” the Turkish military operation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that his country would not stop its military operation in Syria against Kurdish fighters, rejecting “threats” in this regard.

Erdoğan said in a speech in Istanbul: “We do not care what some say, we will not stop this” operation targeting the YPG in northeastern Syria.

He added: “We will never stop the step we have taken against the PYD and the YPG.”

He continued: “We receive threats from all sides and towards it says stop this progress.”

The United Nations announced on Friday that about 100,000 people have left their homes in northeastern Syria, where more people are sheltering in shelters and schools following the Turkish military incursion in the region this week.