HRVP Borrell: Turkey must immediately de-escalate in the Eastern Mediterranean, or EUCO will consider the consequences

Turkey must immediately de-escalate in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to start problem solving dialogue, otherwise the European Council will consider the consequences, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, told the plenary of the European Parliament in Brussels during a debate on Turkey.


Borrell explained to members that he would continue to try to make room for dialogue with Turkey, no matter how difficult it may be by its conduct, warning that “anything else would also undermine the prospect of resuming talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue”. He also reminded that the EU stands in full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.


More specifically, HRVP stated the following: “unfortunately, the tensions continued to rise over the summer. I have spent the last few months – including my summer holidays – trying to facilitate de-escalation efforts; however, it is clear that more efforts are needed. The latest move by Turkey to discontinue seismic exploration in the continental shelf of Greece is a step in the right direction. Let us hope it will lead to further steps towards dialogue.”


“EU-Turkey relations were at the forefront of EU Foreign Ministers discussions at the extraordinary ministers’ meeting on 14 August, as well as at the Gymnich meeting, and we will continue next week at the Foreign Affairs Council, and then the European Council will have the issue on their agenda at the end of the month”, he stated.


“Recent developments show that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean requires our urgent and collective engagement. Turkey’s threating actions and statements are unacceptable. Turkey has to refrain from unilateral actions. This is a basic element to allow the dialogue to advance. Our position is very clear: we are determined to defend the European Union’s interests and stand in full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus. Immediate de-escalation is essential to allow for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations, which is the only path towards stability and lasting solutions”, Borrell noted.


“As High Representative, I will also continue my efforts to create space for a dialogue with Turkey on the broader issues at stake, hard as it may be in the face of Turkey’s behaviour”, he stated.


“EU Foreign Ministers were clear about the possible consequences in the absence of progress in engaging with Turkey. The European Council will consider these in the light of the most recent developments by the time they meet”, the HRVP noted.


“I therefore hope for your support in my efforts to create the urgently needed space to work with the Turkish leadership to achieve a de-escalation that, in turn, will allow for the pursuit of lasting solutions to the underlying problems of today’s crises”.


“Anything else would also undermine the perspective for the resumption of talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem”. He aslo noted that he discussed the issue of the resumption of talks on the Cyprus issue with the UN Secretary General, which he identified that for the period after the elections in the Turkish Cypriot community.


“The EU – and I, as High Representative – will continue to do everything we can to support the efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement under UN auspices in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded and the EU acquis”, Borrell stated.


“In terms of domestic developments in Turkey, the worrying backsliding in the area of rule of law and fundamental freedoms continues to raise deep concern. We still fail to see Turkey deliver on its promise to take effective measures on strengthening the independence and impartiality of the judiciary”, the HRVP recalled.


“Turkey’s serious backsliding away from EU values and reforms and tense relations with several Member States led the Council to decide in 2018 for a “standstill” of the accession negotiations and suspension of work on modernising the Customs Union. With the serious developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkish foreign policy actions in the region since last fall, things have become even more worrying and complex. We are facing what in many ways could become a watershed in EU-Turkey relations.”


“It is clear that solutions will not come from an increasingly confrontational relationship. Turkey is an important neighbour for the European Union – and will remain so, geography will not change – and it is a key partner in many areas (migration for example), it is a candidate country for accession, and a large majority of its population embrace our values and look to the EU as a societal model. But it is clear that developments in Turkey and Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond puts into question how our relations will develop in future”, HRVP Borrell noted.


“We need a solid relationship anchored in a common agenda of partnership that respects mutual interests and is based on values. This requires us to look at the full relationship in a comprehensive way. Thank you and I look forward to our discussion”, he concluded.


For his part, Michael Roth, German Minister for European Affairs, stressed that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is particularly fragile, problems remain, including those of immigration, and that “Turkey is not fulfilling its responsibilities in the region.” He explained that the European Council should send two clear messages: “first, that the EU stands with unlimited solidarity with Greece and Cyprus” and that “there can be no military solution – only a political solution – leaders will consider what will happen if there is no de-escalation”.


Source: Cyprus News Agency

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