On 12 November 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Ioannis Lagos of the Non-attached Members posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“As can be seen from a survey of all NAVTEX showing the areas in which the Oruç Reis vessel has travelled since 10 August, it is clear that Ankara wants to ‘drown’ Kastellorizo in a Turkish continental shelf and EEZ. The illegal Turkish NAVTEX, under which the Oruç Reis has been operating since midnight on Wednesday, is only 12 nautical miles from Rhodes and 18 nautical miles from the island of Ro in the Kastellorizo archipelago. Yet Turkey has requested that no vessel get any closer than six nautical miles from the Oruç Reis. In this way, Turkey is trying to cut off Kastellorizo from other Aegean islands, to enclose the Kastellorizo archipelago in a Turkish continental shelf and to acquire usufruct rights by creating a fait accompli, despite the fact that the sovereign rights of a State, in this case Greece, in its own Exclusive Economic Zone, are inalienable.
In view of the above:
What steps does the Commission intend to take to safeguard the borders of Greece, and by extension of the EU, against Turkish expansionism?
Does the Commission intend to impose sanctions on Ankara for its conduct in general?”
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.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/sea-islands-sky-water-ocean-4192949/