Defence Minister Savvas Angelides on Tuesday briefed his EU counterparts about the ongoing illegal activities of Turkey in the Republic of Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and condemned these activities as well as the effort to destabilize the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, he stressed the need for an EU naval presence in the region.
The briefing took place in the framework of a teleconference of the EU member states Defence Ministers during which ways of increasing the EU involvement at the operational level as well as defensive initiatives and structures aiming at the desired level of ambition of the Joint Defence and Security Policy were discussed.
According to a press release issued by the Defence Ministry, during his intervention Angelides referred to the enhancement of the EU operational commitment and noted that the Republic of Cyprus, despite its small size and the continuing Turkish threats always aims at increasing its contribution to the EU missions and operations.
Angelides also referred to the need for the overall recognition of threats with a view to draft a Strategic Compass and adopt better choices with regard to the EU Treaty provisions for mutual contribution that constitute the core of the European solidarity.
The Defence Minister also participated in a meeting of the European Defence Agency Steering board which discussed the role of the Agency in developing the defence capabilities amid subversive challenges.
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.
Turkish drill ship “Yavuz” arrived last April in the exclusive economic zone (ΕΕΖ) of Cyprus, after Ankara announced another attempt to drill a well in blocks licensed to European companies. This is the sixth time Turkey attempts to drill within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, this time in an area that covers part of exploration blocks 6 and 7, which have been licensed to ENI and TOTAL.
In a statement on May 15, EU Foreign Ministers deplored the fact that Turkey has not yet responded to EU calls to cease such activities and reiterated their call on Ankara to show restraint, refrain from such actions, and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus, in accordance with international law. EU Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed previous Council and European Council conclusions, notably those of June 2019 and October 2019 on Turkey’s continued illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.