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European leaders inch closer towards sanctions on Turkey

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By Euronews
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EU leaders at a press conference following their last summit meeting of the year.
EU leaders at a press conference following their last summit meeting of the year.   -   Copyright  JOHANNA GERON/AFP
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European leaders took another step towards sanctions against Turkey over its gas exploration in the East Mediterranean.

The conclusions of Thursday's EU summit, released in the early hours of Friday, ask for a report to be prepared with "options on how to proceed, including on the extension and the scope” of sanctions against Ankara.

Leaders threatened back in October to bring forward punitive measures unless Turkey stopped its unauthorised drilling activities for gas in the seas around Greece and Cyprus.

But the lack of broader sanctions this time around - with some people associated with the companies in the East Mediterranean already being sanctioned - is thought to have been due to a desire to give President Erdogan one last chance to come back to the table for de-escalation talks, leaving Athens and Nicosia, as well as to some degree, French President Macron, less happy, given that they were pushing for tougher measures.

Since the threat in October, however, President Erdogan has also inflamed the situation in occupied-Northern Cyprus by calling for a two-state solution (something not advocated for by the UN), among other things, further enraging some EU member states.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday welcomed the European Union's threat to impose sanctions on Turkey.

He said that although sanctions weren't an objective in themselves, they would help to rein in what he called Turkey's "provocative action".

"The threat of sanctions in case Turkey continues its provocative action is the best tool we have at our disposal precisely so that it can change behaviour," Mitsotakis said at the end of an EU summit in Brussels.