The EU reminded Turkey of the March 2018 European Council Conclusions on the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean during the 54th EU-Turkey Association Council held today in Brussels and expressed full EU solidarity with the Republic of Cyprus in relation to the Turkish statements about the drilling activity in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone.
Speaking at the same conference, where both Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavocoglou and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn participated, Federica Mogherini said that the prospects for a resumption of the negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem were discussed and also expressed readiness and availability EU to assist the process when the UN deems it can start again.
The High Representative stated during the Press Conference, in the presence of M.Cavucoglu: “finally, we reiterated our position on good neighbourly relations, by recalling the March 2018 European Council conclusions about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and we underlined that the European Union stands in full solidarity with Cyprus when it comes to the recent statements by Turkey in relation to its planned drilling activities in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.”
She also stated that “we discussed the prospective for the future eventual resumption of the talks under the UN auspices on the Cyprus Issue and we reiterated on our side the full availability and the readiness from the European Union to accompany and support in any possible useful manner these talks whenever UN will deem it ready to restart”.
According to a written Press statement issued by the Council, “the EU also reiterated its position on good neighbourly relations, by recalling the March 2018 European Council conclusions on the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, and expressed its grave concern over recent statements by Turkey in relation to its planned drilling activities in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone”.
The statement adds that “the EU welcomed the UN efforts to resume negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus, and recalled that it remains crucial that Turkey commits and contributes to the process and to a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement within the UN framework, in accordance with UNSC resolutions and in line with EU principles and the EU acquis”.
Furthermore, during the Association Council, the EU reaffirmed the importance of the relations between the EU and Turkey, a candidate country and a key partner and stressed the importance of open and frank dialogue, within the established framework, in order to address common challenges in areas of joint interest such as migration, counter-terrorism, energy, transport, the economy and trade.
The EU underlined “that the Turkish government’s stated commitment to EU accession needs to be matched by corresponding reforms and recalled that the Council conclusions of 26 June 2018 state that Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union and that accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill”.
The EU reiterated its concerns over “the continuing and deeply worrying backsliding in the areas of fundamental rights and rule of law, and the deterioration of the independence and functioning of the judiciary”. In this regard, the EU expressed its expectation from Turkey “to ensure that its plans for judicial reform are realised in line with EU and Council of Europe standards”.
The EU also deplored the increasing pressure faced by civil society, as demonstrated by the indictment of sixteen prominent activists late February and stated its concerns over the rapidly shrinking space for civil society, notably in the face of widespread arrests, including arrest of journalists, and recurrent bans on demonstrations and other types of gatherings. The EU called on Turkey to urgently reverse all measures that have a negative impact on judicial independence, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The EU immediately and strongly condemned the 15 July coup attempt. The EU also underlined the importance of a system of redress for those unjustly affected by the broad scale and collective nature of the measures taken in its aftermath.
The EU strongly commended Turkey`s significant efforts in hosting and addressing the needs of approximately four million refugees and underlined that the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement is in the interest of both sides and remains crucial with a view to bringing irregular migration to a halt. It welcomed the comprehensive and regular EU-Turkey political dialogue, which allows for further reviewing a broad range of foreign policy issues of common interest, notably as regards Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, Libya, and the situation in the Gulf. Finally, the EU underlined that Turkey has an important role and responsibility within the wider region, and that enhanced dialogue, cooperation and alignment on foreign policy issues is crucial.