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MEPs call on Turkey to immediately stop illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean



           


MEPs are in tune with the European Commission regarding Turkey's actions in the Eastern Mediterranean (photo: F.Dubessy)
MEPs are in tune with the European Commission regarding Turkey's actions in the Eastern Mediterranean (photo: F.Dubessy)
TURKEY / EU. In a resolution adopted on Thursday, September 17, 2020 by 601 votes in favour, 57 against and 36 abstentions, MEPs "condemn Turkey's actions in the exclusive economic zones of Greece and Cyprus and express their full solidarity with the two member states". Just as Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, had done the day before during her EU speech to MEPs in Brussels.

"De-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in our mutual interest," the European Parliament emphasizes, pointing out that new sanctions against Turkey are not excluded.

It is one more voice in the European unanimity, after that of the final declaration of the MED7 Summit, and a serious threat to Ankara in the run-up to the extraordinary European Council of 24 and 25 September 2020. Meeting in Brussels, the twenty-seven heads of state of the EU will decide on the response to be sent to Turkey. The MEPs ask them "to be ready to put in place new sectoral and targeted restrictive measures, which would not have a negative impact on the Turkish population or the refugees residing in the country". According to the MEPs, only dialogue can avoid them.

Putting an end to "bellicose nationalist rhetoric"

The resolution expresses "their concern about the ongoing dispute and the consequent risk of military escalation between EU member states and an EU candidate country". They welcome the withdrawal, on 12 September 2020, of one of the Turkish seismic research vessels (the Oruç-Reis) present in the disputed waters. But two others are still there (the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa and the Yavuz). They therefore call on "Turkey to immediately cease all illegal prospecting and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, not to violate Greek airspace and Greek and Cypriot territorial waters, and to put an end to "bellicose nationalist rhetoric"".

That same morning, during a video conference with the local leaders of his party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued his verbal joust with French President Emmanuel Macron. The Turkish president criticized him for supporting Athens and Nicosia by deploying his warships and fighter planes in the region. Recep Tayyip Erdogan therefore asked: "Why is Turkey in Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, some wonder (...) If Turkey gives up everything, could France get rid of the disorder that the ambitious and incapable leader has provoked and embrace a policy of common sense?".

In the Eastern Mediterranean, the tension is now concentrated on the small Greek island of Kastellórizo. Located in the Dodecanese, two kilometers from the Turkish coast, this small piece of European land with a surface area of 9 km² received, on Thursday, September 17, 2020, the symbolic visit of Ekaterini Sakellaropoúlou, Greek president. The Greek army has strengthened its presence there since Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked Athens to withdraw its troops from this island demilitarized since a treaty dating back to 1947. Before stating that he would find it logical for Kastellórizo to return to his country. It is part of the issue of the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) between Greece and Turkey and, beyond that, the right to exploit the gas resources located offshore, which is the subject of the current dispute.


Frédéric Dubessy


Thursday, September 17th 2020



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