To Vima — Following an informal European Union summit this evening, European Council President Donald Tusk, speaking as, “on behalf of all 27 European Union member-states”, denounced Turkey’s bellicose activity in the Aegean and Cyprus and said Turkish activity in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a patent violation of the sovereign rights of a member-state.
Tusk said that Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras informed fellow leaders about “Turkey’s illegal violations” in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.
Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government on 23 February 2018 – His ‘condemnation ‘ of Turkey’s actions came at the end of his statement about the post Brexit budget and the EU institutions.
“This evening President Anastasiades and Prime Minister Tsipras informed us about the latest developments regarding Turkey’s illegal violations in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Aegean. On behalf of all the EU leaders, I would like to express our solidarity with Cyprus and Greece, and urgently call on Turkey to terminate these activities. I reiterate our support for the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources, in accordance with EU and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
These actions contradict Turkey’s commitment to good neighbourly relations and their normalisation with all Member States. We are ready to cooperate with Turkey and will assess at our March European Council whether the conditions are there to hold the Leaders’ Meeting with Turkey in Varna on 26 March.
Finally – and I believe – most importantly, on Syria. The Assad regime is brutally attacking innocent men, women and children. Its backers, Russia and Iran, are allowing this to happen. We urge them to stop this violence. The EU calls for an immediate ceasefire, and for providing urgent humanitarian access to and protection of civilians”.
However, the war in Afrin, northern Syria, where civilians are also killed by Turkish military activities did not merit a mention.
“On behalf of all EU leaders, I would like to express our solidarity with Cyprus and Greece, and urgently call on Turkey to terminate these activities,” Tusk said, in what the Greek press reported as ‘unprecedentedly harsh language’.
The intervention comes directly after Ankara succeeded in blocking the Italian energy giant ENI from drilling in Block 3 of the Cypriot EEZ, off the southeastern, Turkish occupied part of the island, and shortly before the American energy colossus ExxonMobil is to begin preliminary oil and gas exploration in the same area.
Ankara staged an air and sea blockade of the island, and even threatened to sink ENI’s huge SAIPEM 12000 drill.
Anastasiadis, who was recently re-elected to a second five year term, has said that he is prepared to put part of the revenues from oil and gas deposits, in trust for the Turkish Cypriots.