The Turkey progress report covering 2009-2010 contains no official position on the constant violations by the Turkish armed forces of Greek airspace and territorial waters; it merely mentions Greek 'complaints'. The Greek prime minister, addressing a meeting of Turkish ambassadors in Erzurum on 07.01.2011, referred publically to the constant overflights by Turkish military aircraft even over Greek islands. Since the violations are no longer disputed by anyone since they are also fully recorded by NATO radar, will the Council say: Has the Greek government asked it specifically to condemn Turkey for the constant violations and if so, when? What position has it taken on the constant violations and what steps is it taking vis-à-vis Turkey to put an immediate end to these provocative acts which pose a threat to peace in the region?
(EN) The present answer, which has been drawn up by the Presidency and is not binding on either the Council or its members as such, was not presented orally at Question Time to the Council during the February 2011 part-session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The Council is aware of this issue, and a considerable number of complaints has been made by Greece about continued violations of its airspace and territorial waters by Turkey.
The Council would like to stress that Turkey as a candidate country must share the values and objectives of the European Union as set out in the Treaties. In this light, unequivocal commitment to good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes is essential. This issue is covered by the Negotiating Framework, and constitutes a short-term priority in the revised Accession Partnership.
The Council, most recently in its conclusions of 14 December 2010, underlined that Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice. In this context, the Union urged the avoidance of any kind of threat, source of friction or actions which could damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Furthermore, the EU stressed again all the sovereign rights of EU Member States which include, inter alia, entering into bilateral agreements, in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Against this background, the Council can assure the honourable Member that the issue will continue to be closely followed and systematically raised at all levels as appropriate, as good neighbourly relations are one of the requirements against which Turkey's progress in the negotiations is being measured.