European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn called Turkey to respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and its rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Hahn’s supportive statements towards Cyprus come in a period when tension in the region between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey has risen dramatically after the Turkish government’s decision to send seismic vessel «Barbaros» to Block 3 of Cyprus’ EEZ, escorted by a Turkish Navy battleship, in order to conduct hydrocarbon research for future exploitation.
Speaking during the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary committee meeting, Hahn said that he is willing to elaborate on the issue in detail at the plenary debate in the European Parliament today. “My main message will be that we expect Turkey to respect Cyprus’ sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone, to show restraint and avoid any statements or actions that could cause more friction,” the European Commissioner highlighted, while at the same time he said that it is a matter of utmost importance that all engaged parties try to deescalate tension and act in a constructive way. “We stand firmly behind the UN envoy Espen Barth Eide in his efforts to get the communities in Cyprus to resume the settlement talks,” Hahn said, concluding that “we very strongly encourage all relevant stakeholders to contribute to a positive climate conductive to a Cyprus settlement for the benefit of all.”
The Commissioner’s comments come only a few hours after a similar message was sent to the Turkish side by the European Green Party (EGP), member of which is Cyprus’ Green Party, which also condemned Ankara’s violation of Cyprus’ sovereignty and called for ratification of the European Parliament resolution on Turkish actions creating tension in Cyprus’ EEZ.
“This resolution is a measured and appropriate response to this situation. It is clear that Turkey must act within international law. In beginning exploration for possible hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ EEZ, Turkey is being deliberately provocative and damaging its own interests in regards to European Union accession. They must withdraw their vessel and stop threatening action towards the Republic of Cyprus. We fully support the principles behind this resolution. The European Union must speak in one voice in calling for the sovereign rights of its member states to be respected,” EGP commented.