Turkish moves in the Eastern Mediterranean raise concerns, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday, expressing her support for Cyprus within the framework of the EU, as well as bilaterally, while endorsing a political resolution of the problems caused by Turkey’s involvement in Libya.
Addressing the European Parliament’s Security and Defence Subcommittee (SEDE) Parly responded to questions about Turkish moves in the Eastern Mediterranean. “We examined the role of Turkey in Libya,” she said, adding that “France does not believe in a military solution, to the contrary, we endorse a process for a political settlement” through the UN and the Berlin process. Military activity on the territory of Libya set the process off course, she said, noting that the aim is to bring the political process back on track.
“We don’t ignore Turkish violations in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus,” Parly went on. She pointed to the November 2019 Council decision that introduced a set of sanctions, with the support of France, against people and entities who support or aid violations and Turkish drilling activities within Cyprus’ EEZ. France also supports Cyprus bilaterally and maintains for this reason a naval presence in the region, the minister added.
This issue, as well as Turkey’s intervention in Libya need to be resolved, Parly added. The fact that Turkey is a NATO member is positive because “we have a forum for dialogue” where we can speak openly in order to find “political solutions for Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean”, the French minister said.
Turkish drill ship Yavuz arrived last April in the Cyprus ΕΕΖ after Ankara announced another attempt to drill a well in blocks licensed to European companies. This was the sixth time Turkey attempted to drill within the EEZ and continental shelf of Cyprus.
In a statement on May 15, EU Foreign Ministers deplored the fact that Turkey has not yet responded to EU calls to cease such activities and reiterated their call on Ankara to show restraint, refrain from such actions, and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus, in accordance with international law. EU Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed previous Council and European Council conclusions, notably those of June 2019 and October 2019 on Turkey’s continued illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.