Turkey’s recent interventions into Cyprus exclusive economic zone (EEZ) were condemned during a meeting on Monday of the European parliament’s foreign affairs committee in Brussels.
The committee was addressed by Cyprus’ ambassador to the EU, Nicos Emiliou – who laid out Cyprus’ position – and the island’s five MEPs, as well as Angelina Eichhorst, director for Western Balkans and Turkey of the European external action service, and a handful of MEPs from other member states.
In February this year, Turkey sent naval ships to blockade Italian giant’s ENI’s drillship Saipem 12000 which was heading for block 3 of the island’s economic zone. The drillship was stalled for two weeks before eventually leaving for Morocco.
British MEP Charles Tannock said Turkey’s behaviour of late, not just concerning Cyprus, was “of the gravest concern”. The naval intervention against Cyprus’ interests was just the latest in a long line of negative actions by Ankara, he said. “Turkey no longer deserves to be negotiating as an accession country,” he added.
Eichhorst, in her address, reiterated the full solidarity of EU institutions with Cyprus.
“Turkey has committed to regional and international law and to normalise relations with EU member states,” she said.
In its 2018 Report on Turkey, published last week, the European Commission urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action against a member state, or source of friction or actions that damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Turkey lays claim to parts of a number of drilling sites in Cyprus’ EEZ and the Turkish Cypriots lay claim to others. The Turkish side wants the hydrocarbons issue on the table at Cyprus negotiations but the Greek Cypriots say the matter was settled during previous rounds of talks and that energy was to be an issue for the federal government following a Cyprus solution.