Satisfaction in Nicosia for EU’s stance, but anxiety as to the when the measures will be taken

Satisfaction in Nicosia for EU’s stance, but anxiety as to the when the measures will be taken

It is not an automatic process

by Michalis Tsikalas

Satisfaction is evident in Nicosia after yesterday’s meeting of EU’s European Council, with President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, in a statement stressing that through the decision of the European Council, the EU at the highest level, in addition to confirming the General Affairs Council Conclusions of 18 June 2019, has adopted the proposal by the President of the Republic for targeted measures against Turkey.

“In addition to the unanimous condemnation of Turkish provocation and support for the Republic of Cyprus, for the first time, by collective decision of the EU’s highest body, it is underlined that unlawful acts against a member state are not tolerated and have specific consequences”, it is stressed

“The President of the Republic expresses in his statement once again his determination to engage in a creative dialogue in order to find a viable, lasting and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem with mutual respect for the legitimate concerns of the two communities and aiming at the prevalence of peace, prosperity for the entire Cypriot people on the basis of all UN resolutions, as well as the principles and values ​​of the EU. At the same time, he urges Turkey to respect International Law and the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, as dictated by good neighborly relations rules, avoiding unnecessary tensions or unlawful acts leading to destabilization in the region. The commitment by the European Council to continue the close monitoring and follow-up of developments as well as the launching of targeted measures without delay is tactile support for the defense of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus”, the announcement concludes.

When and how

The next step concerns when the EU will go ahead and under what conditions on specific measures against Turkey. What’s more, at the time when the latter has already launched new developments regarding energy issues, with the drilling rig “Yavuz” having sailed off the Turkish coasts yesterday, and based on what has been declared by Turkish officials, there are plans to drill offshore Karpasia at the beginning of July. At the same time, the work of the drillship “Fatih” continues.

The biggest obstacle after the undoubtedly positive decisions taken yesterday by the EU is bureaucratic. The time which any sanctions will be applied is a decision that depends on the process of existing mechanisms within Europe. It is not something that can be done automatically, as it concerns the operation of all the Member States. What is important is that Turkey is now aware that its actions in the EEZ of Cyprus are not without consequences, as political sources say. However, it is a process that can not be bypassed as there hasn’t been a “specific” initiative for Cyprus, but rather they are the usual steps taken every time the EU faces such issues.

Graying and Famagusta

The fact that Turkey does not seem to be backing down, but instead it is bringing a second drilling rig in the wider region of Cyprus, brings to the surface a number of other questions. First of all, the UN’s absence from the whole case is “deafening”, with sources saying that obviously the UN cannot not “find” proper ground to intervene. It is also noted that with the Cyprus problem open, without developments, it is not in the best interest of the Republic of Cyprus to increase the tension with the UN. What’s more, at a time when the issue of Famagusta has resurfaced in the last days by the T/C side.

The reactions to the latter at a political level within Cyprus are horrible to say the least. Especially, since according to all indications it is a tactic on the part of the Turkish Cypriots to cause more disruption within Cyprus, at the time of what is taking place in its EEZ. It is indicative that at no level has any political force raised the issue seriously as a basis for discussion as the T/C’s have done.

What is most concerning is that Turkey’s attempts to create fait accompli in the EEZ, which will essentially come from the invasion they make, are getting flesh and bones. Although the political front and background in Nicosia welcomes any moves and decisions made specifically at EU level, the key issue remains how Turkey will be forced to put an end to any activity and avoid any attempt to create gray areas in the EEZ, as it had done with block 3 and ENI./ibna