EU wants constructive relationship with Turkey? EUdebates Belarus Crisis and Greece-Turkey Tensions

European Union leaders will express their full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus in their standoff with Turkey, but the EU wants a de-escalation of tensions with Ankara and a constructive relationship, the head of the European Commission said.… #eudebates #Turkey #Dialogue #Cyprus #debates #HagiaSophia #Migration #Borrell #Turkey #Ankara #Erdogan #Anastasiades

Speaking to reporters on entering a summit of EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen told reporters there were two options for the EU in its relations with Turkey.

“Either the tensions are rising, which is not what we want, or there is a de-escalation and we are moving towards a constructive relationship — this is what we want,” she said.

The bloc could decide to impose sanctions on Belarus, but much hinges on the stance it chooses to take on Turkey.

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Belarus and Turkey top the agenda as EU leaders meet in Brussels, India struggles with caste-based violence, and an alleged participant of the Rwandan genocide faces extradition.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

Sanctions on Belarus Could Be Forthcoming

EU leaders are set to meet today in Brussels to begin a two-day special summit aimed primarily at untangling the two major crises currently gripping the region—the political upheaval in Belarus and the dispute in the eastern Mediterranean. Attendees will also discuss ongoing issues with China as well as the unfolding conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Sanctions on Belarus. The European Union has been slow to respond to the worsening political crisis in Belarus, in part due to concerns over Russia’s increasingly hostile stance. Weeks after Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in an election that was mired in allegations of fraud, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned EU powers against meddling in Belarus’s internal affairs and went as far as offering Lukashenko military support.

After a secret inaugural ceremony in the Belarusian capital of Minsk last weekend, the EU said it did not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus, but stopped short of announcing sanctions. A German official told Reuters that the bloc could make a decision on sanctions during the summit.

Going their own way. But this hasn’t stopped some EU member states from unilaterally imposing sanctions. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—the latter of which is current housing exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya—preempted action by the bloc and imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and several other top government officials in August. Belarus responded in kind on Wednesday by imposing retaliatory sanctions.

Intertwined crises. But the EU’s approach to Belarus has also been hampered by the ongoing dispute between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus has insisted that it will not support sanctions on Belarus unless Brussels takes similar action against Turkey over its growing assertiveness in the region—a move that the EU is reluctant to make. Last week, Cyprus blocked an attempt by EU ministers to impose sanctions on Lukashenko and several other key government figures.

EU leaders will likely expend considerable effort during this summit to placate Cyprus. Although the bloc is unlikely to impose sanctions on Ankara, it is actively supporting efforts by Greece and Turkey to negotiate an end to their dispute.

What We’re Following Today

Widening crisis. International powers have traded barbs over the violence gripping the Caucasus as Armenia and Azerbaijan continued their clashes for a fourth day on Wednesday over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. NATO powers have grown increasingly concerned over the involvement of Turkey, which is offering strong words of support to Azerbaijan. During a visit to Latvia, French President Emmanuel Macron said he was concerned about Ankara’s “warlike messages … which essentially remove any of Azerbaijan’s inhibitions in reconquering Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Turkey, which is also a NATO member, has given strong indications that it would support Azerbaijan militarily. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey would “do what is necessary” if Azerbaijan requested military support. Ankara has already been accused of moving militants from Syria to Azerbaijan.

Anger over caste-based violence in India. Protests have erupted across India after the body of a 19-year-old woman who recently died after a brutal gang rape was cremated without the permission of her family. The woman belonged to the Dalit community, a heavily marginalized group at the bottom of the country’s caste hierarchy, and was allegedly attacked earlier in September by upper caste men in the state of Uttar Pradesh.