With 601 votes in favour, 57 against and 36 abstentions, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution condemning Turkey’s activities in the EEZ of Greece and Cyprus, ahead of next week’s extraordinary European Council summit that will focus on the heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
The plenary session of the EP welcomed Turkey’s September 12 decision to withdraw its Oruc Reis seismic exploration vessel, calling on Turkey to show restraint and contribute to de-escalation initiatives.
Furthermore, it called on Turkey to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbours, and to immediately terminate all further exploration and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
The EP stressed that further sanctions can be avoided only through dialogue, genuine cooperation and tangible progress.
It added that the European Council should be ready to draw up a list of further restrictive measures in the absence of significant progress on cooperation with Turkey.
The EP also called for a thorough environmental risk assessment for all drilling activities, and reiterated its call on the Turkish government to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS.
The resolution welcomes the call made by the governments of Cyprus and Greece for negotiations and urges the parties to submit their disputes to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague or to resort to international arbitration in the event that a settlement is not possible through mediation.
In addition, the EP urged all stakeholders to actively support the negotiations for a fair, comprehensive and sustainable settlement of the Cyprus problem
More specifically, the adopted text says that the European Parliament:
1. Is highly concerned by the ongoing dispute and related risk of further military escalation in the eastern Mediterranean between EU Member States and an EU candidate country; is firmly convinced that a sustainable conflict resolution can only be found through dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiations in a spirit of good will and in line with international law;
2. Condemns Turkey’s illegal activities in the continental shelf/EEZ of Greece and Cyprus, which violate the sovereign rights of EU Member States and expresses its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus; urges Turkey to engage in the peaceful settlement of disputes and to refrain from any unilateral and illegal action or threat, as that could have a negative impact on good neighbourly relations;
3. Welcomes Turkey’s decision on 12 September 2020 to withdraw its seismic research vessel Oruç Reis, thus taking a first step to easing the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean; condemns Turkey’s decision of 15 September 2020 to issue a new Navtex to extend the term of duty of the Yavuz drilling ship until 12 October 2020; urges Turkey to show restraint, and to proactively contribute to de-escalating the situation, including by respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all of its neighbours, by immediately ending any further illegal exploration and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, by refraining from violating Greek airspace and Greek and Cypriot territorial waters and by distancing itself from nationalistic warmongering rhetoric; rejects the use of threats and abusive language towards Member States and the EU as unacceptable and unseemly for an EU candidate country;
4. Expresses the need to find a solution by diplomatic means, mediation and international law and strongly supports the return to the dialogue between the parties; calls on all actors involved, especially Turkey, to commit to an urgent de-escalation by withdrawing their military presence in the region in order to enable dialogue and effective cooperation;
5. Calls on Turkey, as an EU candidate country, to fully respect the law of the sea and the sovereignty of the EU Member States Greece and Cyprus over their territorial seas, as well as all their sovereign rights in their maritime zones; reiterates its call on the Turkish Government to sign and ratify the UNCLOS and recalls that even though Turkey is not a signatory, customary law provides for EEZs even for uninhabited islands;
6. Deplores the fact that the increasing escalation of tension undermines prospects for the resumption of direct talks on the comprehensive resolution of the Cyprus issue, while this remains the most effective path with regard to prospects for the delimitation of the EEZs between Cyprus and Turkey; urges all parties concerned to actively support the negotiations for a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue within the UN framework, as defined by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in accordance with international law, the EU acquis and on the basis of respect for the principles on which the Union is founded;
7. Welcomes the invitation from the Governments of Cyprus and Greece to Turkey to negotiate in good faith the maritime delimitation between their respective coasts; urges the parties to bring the relevant disputes to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague or to resort to international arbitration in the event a settlement cannot be reached through mediation;
8. Welcomes the efforts made by the EU, most notably by Vice-President/ High Representative Borrell and the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and other international institutions such as NATO, to contribute to finding a solution through dialogue and diplomacy; calls on all sides in a genuine collective engagement to negotiate the delimitation of EEZs and the continental shelf in good faith, fully respecting international law and the principle of good relations between neighbours; supports the proposal for a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean with the participation of all actors involved, to provide a platform to settle disputes through dialogue;
9. Calls on the Commission and all Member States to pursue a broader, inclusive dialogue with Turkey and a comprehensive and strategic security architecture and energy cooperation for the Mediterranean; calls on the Commission and the Member States to remain firmly committed in this dialogue to the fundamental values and principles of the Union, including respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principle of solidarity;
10. Urgently calls for a comprehensive environmental risk assessment of any drilling activity, considering the multitude of risks associated with offshore gas exploration for the environment, the workforce and local populations; calls upon all parties involved to invest in renewable energy and a sustainable climate friendly future, and calls on the EU to support the development of such a Green Deal for the Mediterranean, which would include plans for investment in renewable energy in the wider region in order to avoid disputes over limited fossil resources that are harmful to our climate and environment;
11. Expresses serious concerns about the current state of EU-Turkey relations, mainly regarding the dire human rights situation in Turkey and the erosion of democracy and the rule of law; underlines the past and present negative impacts of Turkey’s unilateral foreign policy initiatives in the wider region and that Turkey’s illegal exploration and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean further add to the deterioration of EU-Turkey relations in general; calls for Turkey and the EU Member States to come together in supporting the peaceful resolution of the conflict and the political dialogue in Libya and to adhere to the arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council; deplores the negative impact that current Turkish foreign policy and other actions in the Mediterranean have on the stability of the region; reiterates its position as expressed in its resolution of 24 October 2019 on the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and its consequences;
12. Calls on the appropriate forums within NATO, and especially the High-Level Task Force on Conventional Arms Control, to discuss arms control in the Eastern Mediterranean as a matter of urgency;
13. Reiterates that the parliamentary dialogue between the EU and Turkey is an important element of the dialogue and de-escalation efforts; deeply deplores the continuous refusal of the Turkish Grand Assembly to reinstate bilateral meetings of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC); calls for the immediate continuation of these sessions;
14. Insists that further sanctions can only be avoided through dialogue, sincere cooperation and concrete progress on the ground; calls on the Council to stand ready to develop a list of further restrictive measures in the absence of any significant progress in engaging with Turkey; proposes that such measures should be sectoral and targeted; takes the firm stance that these sanctions should not have an adverse impact on the people of Turkey, on our support to Turkey’s independent civil society, or on the refugees residing within Turkey;
15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary General of NATO, the President, Government and Parliament of the Republic of Turkey, and the EU Member States.