Sunday

21st Apr 2019

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

  • Europe minister Omar Celik will meet EU foreign ministers later this week. (Photo: eu2016sk/Flickr)

The EU warned Turkey on Monday (12 February) to refrain from any "threat" against Cyprus, after a Turkish vessel prevented an Italian ship from reaching a drilling zone for gas off the Cypriot coast.

"Turkey needs to commit unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and avoid any kind of source of friction, threat, or action directed against a member state," a European Commission spokeswoman said in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She insisted that Turkey's behaviour "damages good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes."

"The EU stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of member states over their territorial sea and airspace," she added, also with reference to regular Turkish incursions in Greek sea and airspace.

Tensions increased last Friday after Turkish vessels stopped the Siam 12000, a floating rig belonging to Italian firm ENI.

The Saipem 12000 was told not to enter the zone where it was supposed to drill, "because there would be military activities in the destination area," an ENI spokesman said, adding that the rig "prudently executed the orders."

Three days before, the Turkish navy had reserved - for military training - an area in the Mediterranean sea that included part of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Under UN rules, EEZ is a sea zone where, under UN rules, countries have special rights for economic activities.

But Turkey does not accept Cyprus' EEZ, saying that it does not take into account the interests of the northern part of Cyprus. Turkey occupied the north of Cyprus militarily and is the only country to recognise it as a state.

The dispute is all the more acute, given that the EEZ is thought to contain important reserves of gas and oil.

On Sunday, the Turkish government denounced Cyprus' "unilateral" drilling, which it said undermined the ''inalienable rights on natural resources of Turkish-Cypriots''.

"Turkey's actions are violating international law," Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades also said on Sunday.

He said that his government would take the "necessary steps," but added that he wanted to "avoid anything which could escalate the crisis."

'Step further'

The Italian government, for its part, said on Monday that it was monitoring the situation and would take "all possible diplomatic steps to resolve the issue."

The escalation in Cyprus' EEZ comes a week after Anastasiades was re-elected president of Cyprus, and amid hopes that peace talks could start again between him and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, after a previous effort failed last year.

Turkish vessels regularly patrol in the eastern Mediterranean to put pressure on Cyprus and oil and gas companies.

But Friday's blocking of the Italian rig is "a step further", a source told EUobserver after the commission's warning to Turkey.

Turkey's Europe minister, Omer Celik, will meet with EU foreign affairs ministers and EU high representative Federica Mogherini in Sofia later this week.

The tension over Cyprus is likely to be discussed, within other EU-Turkey issues, but no Mogherini-Celik bilateral discussion has been scheduled yet.

EU to pump €101m into Cyprus gas network

The EU also agreed on financing a study into the Southern Gas Corridor, to send a signal that the EU is still invested in the project - but leaves questions over renewable energy sources.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us