With Turkey insistent on drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus, the European Union again said that’s the right of the legitimate government to hunt for energy in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize.
A big gas finding by the US energy giant ExxonMobil has raised the states, with Turkey having previously sent warships off the coast in a bid to keep foreign companies out, succeeding in driving away a vessel from the Italian company Eni.
The EU’s new resolution came during the during the 54th EU-Turkey Association Council held today in Brussels, a year after European Council Conclusions on the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, reiterating support for Cyprus.
Speaking a conference in the presence of Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavocoglou and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said prospects for resuming unity talks were also discussed.
“We underlined that the European Union stands in full solidarity with Cyprus when it comes to the recent statements by Turkey in relation to its planned drilling activities in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone,” she said.
The last round of reunification talks fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never removed a 35,000-strong standing army on the northern third unlawfully occupied since a 1974 Turkish invasion, and as they wanted the right to militarily intervene again.
When burgeoning hopes for lucrative energy finds – which Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said would be shared with the Turkish side – there was hope that would propel resumed talks and ratchet down the tension, but that still hasn’t happened yet.
The EU underlined “that the Turkish government’s stated commitment to EU accession needs to be matched by corresponding reforms and recalled that the Council conclusions of 26 June 2018 state that Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union and that accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill”.