EU leaders are gathering in Brussels to discuss pressing foreign affairs issues including possible sanctions on Belarus and Turkey.
As they sit down for talks, here is what has been said so far.
At the top of the agenda for the European Council is relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Greece and Cyprus are in a standoff with Turkey over exploratory drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The presence of naval ships in the area has escalated tensions in recent weeks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated the complicated relationship the EU has with Ankara. She said Turkey is a partner in NATO and the migration crisis explaining that is why the EU needs a “constructive relationship with Ankara” and said the conflict needed to be resolved with diplomacy.
For Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Turkey has to show responsibility and a permanent direction towards dialogue. But if they don’t comply, the EU should take concrete measures sooner or later.
Although diplomats said that “all options are on the table”, which includes sanctions, the issue has been blocking sanctions against Belarus.
All EU countries have rejected the result of the August 9 elections that saw Alexander Lukashenko declared the winner. The EU has called for a new election, and agree targeted sanctions should be placed on officials and possibly Lukashenko himself.
In September, foreign ministers failed to break the stalemate. Until now, Cyprus has been blocking sanctions on Belarus unless sanctions are approved against Turkey.
On Thursday, Cyprus’ Anastasiades called on EU leaders to take an “effective stance to bring about an end to gunboat diplomacy”.
The deadlock has exposed the long-standing issue of the bloc being able to act in unison, especially on foreign policy.
Rule of law
On the sidelines, a dispute over internal affairs has spilt into the spotlight.
The row over tying respect of rule of law to the trillion-euro coronavirus recovery package has been gaining pace this week. The European Parliament, backed by some member states, is calling for strict conditions to be linked to access to EU cash when it comes to rule of law. Several member states, including Hungary, say the current agreement from July on the EU recovery money is sufficient.
Hungary’s Viktor Orban told Hungarian media ahead of the summit, that “if debates about the rule of law delay the establishment of the emergency fund, it’s possible to make bilateral deals outside the EU framework”.