German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Nov. 30 said that the European Union has not made as much progress on relations with Turkey as wanted, Reuters reported. Merkel made the remarks while addressing legislators from across the continent during a video conference.
At a summit on Dec. 10-11, EU leaders are expected to decide their next steps regarding the EU-Turkey relations.
Germany, which currently holds the EU Presidency, has so far been particularly opposed to imposing sanctions on Turkey over the Eastern Mediterranean crisis.
Merkel said that German welcomes the return to the port of Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis after completing its energy exploration mission in the Eastern Mediterranean.
"It's a good signal that Oruç Reis now has returned to a Turkish port," she said.
"We have put a great deal of effort into EU's relations to Turkey. But there are many different obstacles and difficulties that reoccur again and again," Merkel said.
Meanwhile, an EU spokesperson said on Nov. 30 that the EU will assess its relations with Turkey not over one action, but on the country's actions over a period of time.
Asked about Turkey bringing back Oruç Reis to port, Peter Stona told a news conference that what the EU expects from Turkey, and its timeline, are very clear.
“The leaders of the EU and the EU member states will get together during the next European Council in December and they will review whether Turkey delivered on their expectations,” he said.
“We're also preparing for a conference on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” he added.
Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Ministry announced Nov. 30 that the Oruç Reis seismic research vessel had returned from the Eastern Mediterranean to the southern port of Antalya after completing its current research activities.
Last week, the EU's Parliament called for sanctions against Ankara over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Turkish Cyprus and Turkish operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, which it called illegal. Turkey said it fully rejected this.
EU leaders will meet on Dec. 11-12 to discuss the sanctions, with France leading a push in the bloc to sanction Turkey. Paris has yet to draw up sanctions, but diplomats say any measures would likely target areas of Turkey's economy linked to hydrocarbon exploration.