Josep Borrell discussed the Euro-Turkish relations during the European Parliament’s session convened by the European People’s Party to debate on the issue of stability and security in the Mediterranean and Turkey’s negative role, after being featured in the Summit’s agenda.
It is clear that stability and security in the Mediterranean requires our collective engagement, said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell before the European Parliament.
“I have just returned from intensive discussions in Turkey and Malta”, Borrell stressed, adding that last week, he visited Greece and Cyprus to provide proof of the EU solidarity.
“Years of conflict in Libya and Syria have ave been impacting this region, directly affecting our interests and security in terms of uncontrolled migration, terrorism or political instability from the Sahel to the broader Middle East”, Borrell continued.
Referring to Turkey, he noted that ” Turkey is also affected by this situation, and is active in conflicts both in Syria and in Libya, in fact it is one of the most important actors in both conflicts. We have had important discrepancies regarding Turkey’s action in North-West and North-East Syria. Last October, the Council firmly condemned Turkey’s military operation in North-East Syria”, Borrell said.
“Yet we must also acknowledge where our interests coincide. Turkey has been showing solidarity and generosity towards more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees and has supplied cross-border humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the recent brutal fighting in Idlib”. He went on to express his regret over the UN Security Council’s decision not to open the border crossing from Turkey to Idlib for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Referring to Libya, he noted that “we need to work better together to launch a real political process. I recalled it also yesterday in my intervention in front of the Security Council of the United Nations, stressing the importance of the Berlin process and our commitment to implement the United Nations arms embargo with our means which are the ones we have. With Operation Irini (Peace) we will continue to monitor closely suspect trafficking, regardless of provenance or destination”.
“In the Eastern Mediterranean”, Borrell continued, “Turkey has been showing a worrying assertiveness – with increased number of flights over Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, drilling operations in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and signature of the maritime Memorandum of Understanding with Libya, which we do not recognise here in the European Union”.
“On these issues, we have been sending clear messages to Turkey. We are determined to protect principles, values, borders, and sovereign rights of the Member States. We will also continue working for a political solution in Syria and Libya”, Borrell said.
Turkey is an important partner, a candidate country and a NATO ally, Borrell continued.
“The current negative trend in our relations, I told a couple of days ago in Ankara to our Turkish colleagues, to the Foreign Affairs Minister [Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu] and the Defence Minister [Hulusi Akar] – the current negative trend in our relations needs to be stopped and reversed. Dynamics of retaliation do not make the Mediterranean a more secure and stable zone”, he said. “This will only be achieved through dialogue and negotiations where discrepancies exist and they do. This is what I have been discussing with Turkish colleagues on my last trip, stressing that we have many common interests on which to build”
Concluding, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that on Monday, European Union foreign ministers would discuss possible ways forward with Turkey.
For his part, European Parliament Rapporteur on Turkey Nacho Sanchez Amor said that Turkey-EU relations have gone through a difficult period, noting that there is a lack of trust that affects the basis of bilateral relations, adding that EU member states must stand with Greece and Cyprus.
For his part, the President of the EPP, Manfred Weber, stated that they convened the meeting to express their concerns about the recent developments in the Mediterranean, while noting that the problems between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus affect not only these countries but also the whole the European Union.
Weber argued that it was wrong to continue talks with Turkey under these conditions. /ibna