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Flanders backs economic sanctions against Turkey

Flemish PM Jan Jambon (nationalist) has labelled the Turkish military operation targeting Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria an act of cynicism that has hardly ever been seen before given the Kurds’ help in defeating IS. Mr Jambon believes the EU should help to change the Turks’ mind and is calling for the bloc to impose economic sanctions.

The Flemish leader says the EU must show it is relevant in international politics and act forcefully.  “We have direct interests in this conflict” he told VRT Radio.  “There are IS fighters in camps guarded by the Kurds.  If the Kurds are set to flight by the Turks and leave the camps we are in dire straits.”

The camps also accommodate 50 Belgian IS fighters.  Jan Jambon says if they are allowed to roam, they are “ticking time bombs”.

Jan Jambon: “We should invest in economic sanctions against Turkey and get diplomats to try and change Erdogan’s mind. We have to look at Turkish products entering the EU market and the provision of EU products to Turkey.”

EU foreign ministers meet on Monday.  Mr Jambon says: “You have to make an impression on a mighty country like Turkey.  Europe counts.  It’s crucial to do this in a concerted European manner. Flanders acting alone wouldn’t make much difference, but Flanders will take its responsibility in the EU.”

Flanders has meanwhile suspended all decisions on exports that could be used for military purposes and require authorisation.