Monday

28th Sep 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Caucasus warfare prompts EU alarm
  2. Summit reloaded and last Brexit round This WEEK
  3. EU denies 'clandestine' mission on Venezuela election date
  4. Between the lines, Europe's new Moria unfolds
  5. Now's the time to give QMV a chance in EU foreign policy
  6. European hiccups on the way to West Africa
  7. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  8. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us