EU leaders participating in the Union’s regular Brussels summit, for the first time ever strongly condemned Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, amidst continuing, almost daily aggressive acts by Ankara toward Greece and Cyprus.
Among those acts was the capture at the Greek-Turkish border and imprisonment of two Greek army officers. Charges have not yet been filed against the two, three weeks after they were placed in a top-security jail in Edirne.
“The European Council expressed its grave concern over the continued detention of EU citizens in Turkey, including two Greek soldiers, and calls for the swift and positive resolution of these issues in a dialogue with member states,” the statement said.
The statement focused on Ankara’s bellicose actions towards Greece and Cyprus more broadly.
“The European Council strongly condemns Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and underlines its full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece,” the text issued by the European Council stated.
The Council statement called on Ankara to cease all actions to impede Cyprus’ right to conduct oil and gas exploration in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in which Italy and France are among the countries whose companies have acquired exploration rights.
“Recalling its conclusions of October 2014 and the declaration of 21 September 2005, the European Council urgently calls on Turkey to cease these actions and respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources in accordance with EU and international law,” the EU leaders noted.
“In this context, it recalls Turkey’s obligation to respect international law and good neighbourly relations, and normalise relations with all EU member states including the Republic of Cyprus.”