EU to consider steps against Turkey for Syria offensive

European Union headquarters

European Union (EU) foreign ministers are expected on Monday to discuss the bloc’s response to Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria, with the possibility of sanctions and an EU-wide arms embargo on the table.

Last week, Turkey launched an operation in north-eastern Syria targeting Kurdish militias.

Ankara considers them to be linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is waging an insurgency within the country.

The incursion has drawn condemnation from Turkey’s Western allies amid fears of a severe humanitarian crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded its “immediate termination,” in a telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

Berlin has also halted the export of arms to Turkey that could be used in Syria, in line with decisions taken by France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, and Norway.

Sweden has called for an EU-wide arms embargo, as well as floating the possibility of imposing restrictive measures on individuals.

No sanctions decisions are expected at Monday’s talks in Luxembourg, according to EU diplomats.

However, the issue is also likely to be discussed at a summit of EU leaders later in the week.

The EU has warned that Turkey’s operation threatens to destabilise the region, exacerbate civilian suffering, trigger large population displacements and threaten progress achieved against the Islamic State extremist organisation.

Monday’s talks, attended by UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen, cover a range of other issues, including Turkish offshore drilling activities near Cyprus.

Developments in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan are also on the agenda, while the ministers will meet their Ukrainian counterpart Vadym Prystaiko over lunch.