EU condemned Turkey’s assault on Kurdish forces in northern Syria

It did not impose a formal arms embargo

The EU on Monday condemned Turkey’s assault on Kurdish forces in northern Syria but stopped short of imposing a formal arms embargo, as urged by some countries.

Several European states including Germany and France have already halted arms exports to Turkey over the offensive and there were calls for an official EU-wide ban.

But senior diplomats told AFP that Turkey’s membership of NATO made such an embargo extremely difficult.

Instead, EU member states agreed to the “strict application” of their existing common policy on arms exports, which includes a provision that they should not be approved where they may “contribute to regional instability”.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the commitment, agreed by all 28 foreign ministers at talks in Luxembourg, would have the “same effect” as an arms embargo but was quicker and easier to implement.

But after repeated EU calls for Ankara to halt its operation went ignored, she was downbeat about the chances that the latest move would convince Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change course.

“I’m glad that on this occasion the European Union and member states were not only able to speak with one voice but also to act in unison and we take a further step. Will that be enough? We’ll see,” she told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that EU countries had agreed “that they will no longer authorise arms exports to Turkey”.