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Speech by HR/VP Federica Mogherini at the European Parliament plenary session on Turkish drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean

Brussels, 13/11/2019 - 19:33, UNIQUE ID: 191113_18
HR/VP speeches

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Thank you very much Mr President.

It is a timely debate in this Parliament. It gives me a good opportunity to debrief you on the work that we have done, not only on the Commission’s side, but also on the Council’s side actually. Last Monday, we adopted in the Foreign Affairs Council a framework for restrictive measures in response to Turkey's drillings in the Eastern Mediterranean.

This decision makes it now possible to sanction individuals and entities that are responsible for unauthorised drilling activities in Cyprus' territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone or continental shelf.

You will remember how we got there. In early May Turkey sent a first drill ship inside Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone, and then another one in June.

From the very beginning, there was a common united European Union position on the matter. We acted, first and foremost, in full solidarity with Cyprus, including at the highest level – at the level of the European Council with the European Union Heads of State and Government.

Then in July, the Council decided on a first response, suspending our High Level Dialogues with Turkey, the negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, and endorsing the Commission’s proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020.

The Council also asked the Commission and the External Action Service in July to work on further options for targeted measures in case Turkey continued its illegal drilling activities.

We have been constantly in contact with our Turkish counterparts at all levels, passing messages to the Turkish side for the need to de-escalate.  

And yet, Turkey decided to continue its activities, and even to move further - to Block 7, which is an area where Cyprus has given licenses to a consortium of EU companies.

This is how we arrived to this week's framework for restrictive measures.

As always, we are taking a gradual and scalable approach – meaning that sanctions can be scaled up or down, depending on developments on the ground – or in this case let me say rather developments at sea.

And as always, these are targeted measures – so they will only target individuals or entities that are responsible for or involved in unauthorised drillings. 

Our goal remains to defuse tension and make clear that Cyprus' sovereignty and sovereign rights should be respected in accordance with international law. 

At the same time, it is urgent to resume substantive settlement talks aimed at the reunification of the island, aimed at a united Cyprus inside the European Union and based on a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation.

The European Union fully supports the work done by the two Cypriot leaders [Mustafa Akıncı and Nikos Anastasiades] and the United Nations in this respect. We look forward to the dinner that the UN Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] has convened in Berlin on 25 November, as a crucial opportunity to agree on the next steps towards a solution for the Cypriot issue. 

The European Union has always been accompanying these efforts, steps and different stages and we will continue to do so with all the energy and resources we can mobilise, accompanying the UN work for a settlement, making clear that Cypriot sovereignty and its sovereign rights have to be respected and that the European Union will always act in a united manner to defend them and always inviting our Turkish counterparts to de-escalate and work in a different kind of environment. 

Thank you.

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