If Turkey wishes to have a new customs union with the EU it should cease illegal activities against Cyprus and Greece, Ulrike Demmer Germany’s Deputy Government Spokesperson said late on Wednesday.
Demmer was replying to a question on a proposal by Greece for the EU to suspend the customs union with Turkey.
“The European Council has decided that a condition for Turkey is to stop its illegal activities against Cyprus and Greece in order for a positive agenda to begin and in particular on the modernisation of the customs union with this country,” he said.
In its latest conclusions the European Council had said that provided constructive efforts to stop illegal activities vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus are sustained, the European Council agreed to launch a positive political EU-Turkey agenda.
These will specifically emphasise on the modernisation of the Customs Union and trade facilitation, people to people contacts, High level dialogues, continued cooperation on migration issues, in line with the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
Ankara sent on several occasions its seismic research vessel ‘Barbaros’ to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), following the Republic of Cyprus’ decision, in 2011, to start exploratory offshore drilling.
After May 2019, Turkey caused a stir by sending consecutively two drill ships, “Fatih” and “Yavuz”, to conduct unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean, at times in areas licensed by Cyprus to international energy companies.
The European Council reaffirmed its full solidarity with Cyprus, regarding the respect of its sovereignty and sovereign rights in accordance with international law and in February 2020, placed two persons under restrictive measures, in relation to Turkey`s unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.