European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker declared on Thursday he was a Cypriot when called on to answer how the bloc ought to deal with Turkish actions in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Juncker is in Sibiu in Romania where the informal European Council meeting was taking place and where President Nicos Anastasiades was to brief his EU counterparts on the latest developments concerning the presence of the Turkish drillship ‘Fatih’ off Paphos within the Republic’s EEZ.
Asked by the Cyprus News Agency how the EU was planning on dealing with the matter, Juncker replied: “I am Cypriot.”
On arrival at the Sibiu Summit, Anastasiades said he intended to elaborate on what was happening “unfortunately as a result of the violation of international law by Turkey,” expressing hope Cyprus would have the strong support of the European Council and the EU.
“I hope that something appropriate will be done something that dignifies Europe into the eyes of all Europeans, particularly on the basis of the principles of European solidarity and respect for the sovereignty of the states in general, especially the member states.”
Anastasiades already informed the heads of parties that are members of the European People’s Party (EPP) whose summit also took place in Sibiu, ahead of the Council meeting, of Turkey’s illegal activities.
The president raised the issue of restrictive measures “against all those involved in Turkey’s unlawful actions” in the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ and the Eastern Mediterranean, reiterating that at “virtually these unacceptable actions amount to a new invasion of Cyprus from Turkey after the tragic events of 1974.”
“The time has come for a collective response to these challenges with actions beyond the usual messages that have proven ineffective,” he said addressing the EPP summit.
It is clear, he said, that all of the EU’s rigorous messages to Turkey have hit a wall.
“Even the recent statement by EU High Representative (Federica) Mogherini has been met with irony by the Turkish foreign minister,” he said. The ultimate goal of the measures should be “to end Turkey’s unlawful actions that are likely to further destabilise the region.”
Turkey’s actions, he said, constituted a flagrant violation of Cyprus’ sovereign rights and are contrary to international and European law while her allegations of acting in the best interest of Turkish Cypriots were completely unfounded.
“It is by far the most serious violation of the sovereign rights of Cyprus and we are faced with an unprecedented escalation of Turkey’s unlawful actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, “he said.
Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said after the summit that the EPP partners condemn Turkish intervention and call on Turkey to abandon these illegal activities which are directed not only against the Republic of Cyprus but also against the EU’s interests.”
“At the same time, the EPP notes that it will follow the situation closely and respond accordingly, showing solidarity to the Republic of Cyprus,” he said. Later in the day, Britain said it was concerned by Turkey’s intention to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
“Concerned by Turkey’s announcement to begin drilling in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone,” Hunt said.
“This situation must be deescalated and all parties show restraint,” he said. “Hydrocarbons development should benefit all Cypriots and support a settlement.”