By Christos P Panayiotides
In recent statements, Russian ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy confirmed Russia’s objections against the imposition of sanctions on Turkey by the European Union in relation to the former’s drilling activities in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on the basis that Russia is generally against the imposition of sanctions that have not been approved by the Security Council, which is “the sole body empowered to use such weapons”.
What are the (token) sanctions imposed on Turkey by the European Union?
- Suspension of the negotiations for reaching a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement.
- Not holding, for the time being, any meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council.
- Reduction of the pre-accession economic assistance to Turkey (in 2020) by €150 million.
- Invitation to the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending.
It is obvious even to the most uninitiated reader that the imposed ‘sanctions’ exclusively relate to matters that are directly linked to the relationship between the EU and Turkey, ie to matters that spring from the internal policies and organisational structure of the EU and its relationship with a third country.
And I ask you: On the basis of what logic has the Russian ambassador been led to the conclusion that the carrying-on or the suspension of a negotiation process between the EU and Turkey or the curtailing of the economic assistance given to Turkey by a small amount needs to secure the prior approval of the Security Council, where, as we all know, its permanent members (including Russia) have the right to veto the taking of any decision? Clearly, this conclusion is totally unfounded.
I hasten to add that I appreciate and admire the resourcefulness and the resilience of all the Russian people I have become acquainted with. I also acknowledge the right of every country and, in particular, of those countries which have the necessary economic and military power, to make their own choices and to formulate foreign policies on the basis of their own interests. I even understand Russia’s goal to undermine NATO’s cohesion and to expand its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, a goal that falls within the framework of the rivalry that persists between the big powers.
What annoyed me is the apparent underrating of the intelligence of the people of Cyprus, who were called upon by the Russian ambassador to accept that to reduce the economic assistance given to Turkey by a minute amount or to temporarily suspend a negotiation process going on between them, the EU is under an obligation to secure the prior approval of the Security Council of the United Nations. As the Gospel says, a confessed sin is not a sin anymore!
I feel relieved to have got that off my chest.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia