On 2 November 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Manolis Kefalogiannis of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“Turkey has recently issued another inadmissible NAVTEX announcing its intention of carrying out illegal seismic research operations on the Greek continental shelf to the south of Rhodes from 1 to 4 November. This is yet another example of its disregard for the fundamental provisions of international law and the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Greece, for its part, remains constant in its attachment to a diplomatic settlement of its particular differences with Turkey, respecting the delimitation of the continental shelf between them and the Exclusive Economic Zone. However, a dialogue cannot reasonably be conducted against a background of increased tension in the region resulting from intimidation and non-compliance with international law.
Continued defiance by Turkey once again reflects its indifference to international demands, echoed by European Council conclusions, that it immediately cease its acts of provocation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.
In view of this:
1. What is the Commission’s position regarding Turkey’s renewed offensive, which is further ramping up tensions, thereby undermining the safety and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean region?
2. What initiatives and countermeasures does it intend to take?”
On 4 February 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The EU has consistently reaffirmed, on many occasions its full support to and solidarity with Greece, deploring renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, including recent exploratory activities. In addition, the EU fully supports and stresses the need for a peaceful resolution of possible disputes in line with international law.
The EU has called on Turkey to abstain from unilateral actions, which run counter to the EU interests and violate international law, underlining that delimitation issues must be addressed through cooperation, dialogue and negotiation in good faith.
Turkey should respect the law of the sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), and in particular the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of all EU Member States over their territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, including with respect to islands.
The EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and remains committed to defending its interests and those of its Member States. In this respect, on 10 December 2020, the European Council, in line with its conclusions of 1 October 2020, invited:
— The Council to adopt additional listings in the context of the EU sanctions regime in view of Turkey’s unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean;
— The High Representative and the Commission to submit a report on the EU-Turkey relations and on instruments and option on how to proceed, including on the extension of the scope of the abovementioned regime for consideration at the March 2021 European Council at the latest.
The EU will continue to closely monitor developments on these matters.”
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