European Union leaders are meeting for a two-day summit which will focus on a number of pertinent issues.
Diplomats said that foreign affairs and Europe’s strategic position will dominate. However, international reports indicate that David Sassoli, will warn the national heads at the start of their meeting that MEPs oppose cuts to key EU programmes in the budget plan and want 100 billion euros more.
The relations with Turkey and the situation in Belarus will take significant part of the agenda. One of the headaches is Cyprus position to veto sanctions against Belarus.
Cyprus is accused of holding up approval of economic sanctions on Belarus following an election in August that the West and the opposition say was rigged.
Cyprus position is related to the maritime stand-off of Turkey with Greece and Cyprus. Ankara has infuriated the EU by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in contested waters, and Athens has responded with war games backed by France, raising fears of full-blown conflict.
The summit invitation sent by European Council President Charles Michel read that in the case of Turkey “all options remain on the table” if Ankara does not engage constructively in talks.
Sources close to the EU Council confirmed that these actions could include tough economic sanctions against Turkey, however the focus for now is on trying to find a diplomatic solution. Currently, there is a German-led mediation effort aiming to find a solution.
The recent flare-up of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region will also colour the discussion of Turkey.
Another issue will be the post-Brexit relation between the EU and the UK, following the recent impasse in the discussions. Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin is expected to raise his concerns about Britain’s efforts to re-write the Brexit withdrawal deal.