New warnings for EEZ and Cypriot issue to Turkey in the Commission’s Progress Report

New warnings for EEZ and Cypriot issue to Turkey in the Commission’s Progress Report

The report is moving in parallel to what Ankara has not done in Cyprus

By Michalis Michael

In the Commission’s progress report for Turkey, which is expected to be the first topic of discussion in Nicosia as the hours go by and is analysed in more detail, the main conclusion is the EU’s support to the Republic of Cyprus, especially with regard to the EEZ issue, but also with regards to the actions Ankara has not taken in its relations with Cyprus. Thus, the unlawful actions of Turkey in the Cypriot EEZ are recorded, with the European Council reiterating the warnings against Ankara and calling for compliance with its obligations in order to normalize relations with the Republic of Cyprus and contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem.

The Commission proceeded today with its progress report on the candidate country and which is approved by the College of Commissioners. The report also describes in details the difficult situation within Turkey regarding human rights, justice and the rule of law. In particular, the progress report, which was approved today by the College of Commissioners and sent to the Council of the Member States, states that “tensions in the area due to the prospects of exploring hydrocarbons on the coasts of Cyprus have increased due to Turkey’s actions and declarations that challenge the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the resources of hydrocarbons in its Exclusive Economic Zone.”

It is recorded, as reported by the Cypriot agency from Brussels, that “in May 2019 Turkey sent a drilling platform accompanied by military vessels to the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, further increasing tensions” and the Commission “recalls the statement of the European Council of March 2018, which strongly condemns Turkey’s continuing illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.” The Commission warns that the Council “also recalled Turkey’s obligation to respect international law and good neighbourly relations and called on Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources in accordance with European and international law.” It also notes that “in March 2019, the EU urged Turkey to refrain from such illegal activities, to which it would respond appropriately and with full solidarity towards Cyprus”. In this context it considers that “the operational cooperation with Greece on migration has continued”, however, “tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean have undermined regional stability and security” and “there have been repeated and increased violations of the territorial waters and airspace of Greece and Cyprus by Turkey.”

The tensions in the region due to the prospect of exploration of hydrocarbons on the coast of Cyprus have increased due to Turkey’s actions and statements that question the Republic of Cyprus’s right to exploit hydrocarbon resources in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

Turkey has yet to fulfil its obligation to ensure the full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol from the EU-Turkey Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles for the free movement of goods, including the restrictions on the direct transport connections with Cyprus. No progress has been made in smoothing the bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus. “Turkey’s actions and statements continued to question the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit hydrocarbon resources in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone,” the report states.

Regarding the Cyprus problem

In detail, in the chapter regarding the obligation for good neighbourly relations, the report states that “in February 2018, Turkey repeatedly manoeuvred naval vessels in order to prevent the drilling of a vessel which belonged to an Italian company and was entrusted by Cyprus, resulting in the suspension of the planned drilling activities.

The report continues by referring to the Cyprus issue and noting that “Turkey expressed its satisfaction with the renewed efforts of the UN, which is consulting with the interested parties about the possible resumption of negotiations”. It warns in this context that “Turkey’s continued engagement and contribution to specific negotiations will be of great importance.”

As stressed in the negotiations and the Council’s statements, the Commission notes that Turkey is expected to actively support the negotiations for a fair, comprehensive and sustainable settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework of the United Nations, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is based. “It is important to maintain the progress made so far and to proceed with the preparation of a fair, comprehensive and sustainable system, including its external aspects,” the Commission says.

Turkey has not complied with its obligations

Regarding the normalization of relations with the Republic of Cyprus, the report further notes that “despite the repeated invitations from the Council and the Commission, Turkey has still not complied with its obligations, as outlined in the 21 September 2005 Declaration of the European Community and its Member States, and the conclusions of the Council, including those of December 2006 and December 2015.”

“Turkey has failed to fulfil its obligation to ensure full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol of the Association Agreement and has not removed all the obstacles for the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport connections with the Republic of Cyprus. No progress has been made in smoothing out the bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus,” the Commission states.

It notes that “Turkey has continued to veto the requests of the Republic of Cyprus to participate in various international organizations, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”/ibna