European Parliament calls on Turkey to ‘stop provocations’ in Cyprus
BRUSSELSThe European Parliament has condemned Turkey’s “maritime survey” activities in a resolution approved on Nov. 13, saying they encroach on Greek Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and “its sovereign right to explore the natural resources within it.” The text also called on Turkey to stop its “provocative actions” and “threats” against Greek Cyprus.
Turkey’s maritime surveys “must be seen as both illegal and provocative,” the European Parliament motion said, stressing that they constituted a violation of the sovereign rights of Greek Cyprus and of international law. It said Turkey should immediately withdraw its vessels operating in and around Greek Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
“[Turkey’s] actions and threats undermine the continuation of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,” MEPs added, warning that their continuation “could have a negative impact on Turkey’s relations with the EU.”
“Any gas finds would benefit both communities in Cyprus if a lasting, political solution can be found to end the conflict,” notes the text.
However, Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkır said on Nov. 13 that Ankara will “not accept” the European Parliament’s decision on the resolution.
“It has no validity for us,” said EU Minister Volkan Bozkır, in reference to the draft resolution, during a meeting with Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade in Ankara.
“Although Turkey is respectful of the European Parliament’s decision, this draft resolution is likely to end up like many other resolutions,” he added, implying that it will have little or no consequences.
His statement came soon before the European Parliament’s vote on a resolution on tensions between Turkey and the Greek Cypriot administration, and on oil and gas exploration in the island’s waters. The draft resolution demanded that Turkish vessels operating in waters in and around what the Greek Cypriot administration and the EU deem to be an “exclusive economic zone” be withdrawn immediately.
Negotiations between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013. The previous round of talks had collapsed partly because of the Eurozone debt crisis’s impact on the government in the Greek Cypriot administration’s capital of Nicosia.
The Greek Cypriot administration suspended the most recent talks on Oct. 7 after Turkey sent a ship to monitor an oil and gas exploration mission off the island’s coast.
Turkey and the the Turkish Cypriots have strongly opposed any unilateral move by the Greek Cypriot administration to explore hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying its natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner by a united Cyprus.