Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Cyprus rebukes EU for 'appeasing' Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean

Bloc stops short of sanctions against Ankara at recent summit over maritime standoff between Greece and Turkey

File photo: The Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is seen being escorted by a Turkish Navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus, August 6, 2019 Reuters
File photo: The Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is seen being escorted by a Turkish Navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus, August 6, 2019 Reuters

Cyprus has hit out at its EU partners, calling the bloc’s failure to take stronger action against Turkey “appeasement”.

Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said Brussels’ messages of support to Nicosia as a Turkish research vessel entered its maritime borders would not deter Ankara.

Cyprus and Greece, which is also locked in a standoff with Turkey over the resource-rich waters, have felt increasingly abandoned by the EU.

"Unfortunately we are observing a diffidence from the European Union in taking on a substantive role and adopting policies of deterrence,” Mr Koushios said.

"The policy of appeasement and the messages of support are not enough to discourage Turkey from its illegal actions."

On Sunday the EU decried Turkey’s decision to send an exploration vessel into Cypriot waters, the second to arrive in disputed maritime areas in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Brussels’ high foreign policy representative said renewed drilling by the Yavuz exploration vessel in a maritime zone claimed by Cyprus and Egypt, “fuels further tensions and insecurity in the eastern Mediterranean”.

Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara
Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara

“This action runs counter to and undermines efforts to resume dialogue and negotiations, and to pursue immediate de-escalation, which is the only path towards stability and lasting solutions,” Josep Borrell said.

“I call on the Turkish authorities to end these activities immediately and to engage fully and in good faith in a broad dialogue with the European Union."

The arrival of the Yavuz in Cypriot waters comes amid a tense standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean between Athens and Ankara's navies over Turkish research ship the Oruc Reis.

EU foreign ministers met on Friday to discuss Turkey's actions but stopped short of imposing the kind of economic sanctions it placed over drilling activity in the past.

Cyprus's internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government has been at odds with Turkey for decades.

The island was split after a 1974 Turkish invasion spurred by a coup engineered by the military then ruling Greece.

A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus is recognised only by Ankara.

The Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, will travel to Cyprus on Tuesday to meet Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

Talks will focus on the escalating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Years-long disputes over resource-rich waters centre on Turkey’s claim that waters it says are on its continental shelf should lie within its exclusive economic zone.

Renewed, competing claims by Greece and Turkey over the waters have crossed into the conflict in Libya.

In December, Ankara and Libya’s Government of National Accord in Tripoli signed an agreement on maritime borders that favoured Turkey.

In exchange, Ankara promised military support to the government.

Earlier in July, Greece and Egypt agreed on their own maritime border deal.

The UAE has thrown its weight behind the Greek-Egyptian deal while Turkey has called the Cairo accord a provocation.

Updated: August 18, 2020 01:33 AM

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