Motion for a resolution - B9-0270/2020Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the preparation of the special European Council summit focusing on the dangerous escalation and the role of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean

14.9.2020 - (2020/2774(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission
pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Michael Gahler, Kris Peeters, David McAllister, Antonio López‑Istúriz White, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Vangelis Meimarakis, David Lega, Loucas Fourlas, Lefteris Christoforou, Anna‑Michelle Asimakopoulou
on behalf of the PPE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0260/2020

Procedure : 2020/2774(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the preparation of the special European Council summit focusing on the dangerous escalation and the role of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean


The European Parliament,

 having regard to the European Parliament’s debate of 9 July 2020 on stability and security in Eastern Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey,–  having regard to the outcome of the informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers (Gymnich) of 28 August 2020,

 having regard to the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) Josep Borrell of 16 August 2020 on renewed drilling activities by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean,

 having regard to the remarks made by VP/HR Borrell at the press conference following his meeting with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Çavuşoğlu on 6 July 2020,

 having regard to the remarks made by VP/HR Borrell after his meeting with Greek Minister of Defence Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos on 25 June 2020,

 having regard to the remarks made by VP/HR Borrell after his meeting with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides on 26 June 2020,

 having regard to relevant customary international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in particular taking notice of Part V on the delimitation of exclusive economic zones (EEZs),

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 22 March 2018, 28 June 2018, 22 March 2019, 20 June 2019, 12 December 2019 and to the previous relevant Council and European Council conclusions,

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 17-18 October 2019 concerning Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in Cyprus’ EEZ,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey, in particular those of 24 November 2016 on EU-Turkey relations[1] and of 13 March 2019 on the 2018 Commission Report on Turkey[2],

 having regard to the statements of the EU Foreign Ministers of 15 May 2020 and 14 August 2020 on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean,

 having regard to the conclusions by the President of the European Council following the video conference of the members of the European Council on 19 August 2020,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Turkey is a candidate country and an important partner of the EU and is expected, as a candidate country, to uphold the highest standards of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, including in its compliance with international conventions;

B. whereas Turkey is a NATO ally and should be encouraged to fulfil its potential in preserving stability in the region;

C. whereas, since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their EEZs;

D. whereas in January 2019, the governments of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority established the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, a multinational body tasked with developing a regional gas market and a mechanism for resource development;

E. whereas in May 2019, Turkey escalated tensions while dispatching several drilling ships accompanied by military vessels into Cyprus’ territorial waters; whereas, as a consequence, Cyprus and Greece issued an arrest warrant for any Turkish drilling ships obstructing their gas operations;

F. whereas in early October 2019, tensions rose further when Turkey deployed one of its drilling ships in an area where Cyprus had already given exploration rights to international oil companies;

G. whereas in November 2019, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya, determining a new maritime delimitation between the two countries; whereas the memorandum in question does not conform with the principles of international law and if applied would effectively draw a dividing line between the eastern and the western part of the Mediterranean, thus threatening maritime security, gas exploration and new infrastructure such as the EastMed pipeline;

H. whereas in its conclusions of 12 December 2019, the European Council stated that the MoU ‘infringes upon the sovereign rights of third states, does not comply with the Law of the Sea and cannot produce any legal consequences for third states’;

I. whereas in January 2020, Cyprus, Greece and Israel signed an agreement for to build the EastMed pipeline that would also help EU energy diversification;

J. whereas on 2 June 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj, raised the possibility of drilling surveys throughout the region covered in the Turkey-Libya MoU;

K. whereas on 9 June 2020 in Athens, Greece and Italy signed a bilateral agreement delimiting their EEZs in the Ionian Sea, an extension of the existing 1977 agreement in compliance with the UNCLOS;

L. whereas on 10 September 2020, national leaders at the Med7 Summit of Mediterranean states expressed full support for and solidarity with Greece and expressed regret that Turkey had not responded to the EU’s repeated calls to end its unilateral and illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean;

M. whereas in July 2020, immediately after the European Council summit, Turkey issued a NAVTEX for exploration activities around Kastellorizo for the period from 21 July to 2 August 2020, and following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s intervention, President Erdoğan halted the mission of the vessel Oruc Reis, but at the same time issued a NAVTEX for drilling by the vessel Barbaros in Cyprus EEZ;

N. whereas some Members States have already taken the decision to halt arms export licensing to Turkey; whereas those Member States are committed to strong national positions regarding their arms export policy to Turkey on the basis of the provisions of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, including the strict application of Criterion Four on regional stability;

O. whereas Turkey’s behaviour, beyond its geo-economic interests, reflects a more ambitious geopolitical agenda to spread the country’s influence from northern Iraq and Syria to Libya;

P. whereas Turkey continues its current illegal, unilateral military actions in the Eastern Mediterranean which run counter to the sovereignty of EU Member States (notably Greece and Cyprus) and international law;

Q. whereas on 10 July 2020 President Erdoğan transformed Haghia Sophia into a mosque, following a court decision annulling the 1934 decree by Kemal Ataturk to transform it into a museum; whereas this decision was strongly criticised by UNESCO;

R. whereas Turkey’s poor track record in upholding human rights and the rule of law has led the EU to suspended accession negotiations and all pre-accession funds under the new multiannual financial framework 2021-2027;

S. whereas after exploring in the Eastern Mediterranean for a month, the Oruc Reis collected its cables and returned to Antalya after its NAVTEX for the waters between Turkey, Cyprus, and Crete, which it had been in since 10 August 2020, expired; whereas the ship, along with a naval escort, was expected to continue surveying off the coasts of the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Rhodes until 25 September, and its mission was reportedly suspended due to negotiation efforts initiated by NATO;

1. Reiterates the importance of good relations with Turkey based on a long history of shared values; calls, in this regard, on the Turkish Government to end the repeated violations of Greek and Cypriot airspace and territorial waters, and to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all of its neighbours; reiterates, furthermore, that the EU stands by Greece and Cyprus in this respect;

2. Strongly condemns Turkey’s illegal activities on the continental shelf and in the EEZs of Greece and Cyprus, which run counter to EU interests, and calls on the Turkish authorities to cease these activities, act in a spirit of good neighbourly relations and respect the sovereignty of Cyprus and Greece in accordance with international law;

3. Stresses the need to respect the legal capacity of EU Member States to conclude international agreements with other sovereign states and their sovereign rights, which include, inter alia, the right to explore and exploit natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UNCLOS;

4. Calls for the immediate adoption of additional listings to the existing regime for illegal drillings in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the light of Turkey’s successive escalations of aggression, and in the absence of progress, calls for a list of further restrictive measures vis-à-vis Turkey to be developed and discussed at the European Council on 24 and 25 September 2020;

5. Expresses the need to find a solution through diplomatic means, mediation and international law; stands ready, however, to further advance targeted and effective sanctions and/or sectoral measures against Turkey, including those targeting the energy sector;

6. Calls on the appropriate forums within NATO, and especially the High-Level Task Force on Conventional Arms Control, to discuss arms control in the Eastern Mediterranean as a matter of urgency;

7. Welcomes the invitation from the Governments of the Republic of Cyprus and Greece to Turkey to negotiate in good faith the maritime delimitation between their respective coasts; notes that both governments have proven to remain fully committed to a good faith dialogue in accordance with international law and the UNCLOS; invites Turkey to accept the call of the Governments of the Republic of Cyprus and Greece to conclude a special compromise to submit the issue of delimitation of their respective continental shelves and EEZs to the International Court of Justice;

8. Welcomes the German mediation between Greece and Turkey and expresses its hopes and confidence that it will lead to a constructive and mutually accepted outcome;

9. Reiterates the importance of Cyprus and Greece as European pillars of stability in the region and in bolstering the EU’s energy security;

10. Recalls the political consensus reached by EU Foreign Affairs Ministers on 27 and 28 August 2020, in accordance with which, the relevant Council Working Groups should speed up work in order to add individuals suggested by Cyprus to the list of the existing regime for those involved in illegal drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a view to rapid adoption;

11. Reiterates its call on the Turkish Government to sign and ratify the UNCLOS and recalls that even though Turkey is not a signatory, customary law provides for exclusive economic zones even for uninhabited islands;

12. Notes the importance for both the EU and its Member States and Turkey of maintaining close dialogue and cooperation on foreign policy and security issues; recalls that Turkey is also a longstanding member of the NATO alliance and notes that the EU and Turkey continue to cooperate on issues of (military) strategic importance within the NATO framework;

13. Recalls its resolution of October 2019 on Turkish military action in Syria[3] in which Parliament called on the Council to consider suspending trade preferences under the agreement on agricultural products and, as a last resort, suspending the EU-Turkey customs union, in force since December 1995;

14. Insists that the 27 November 2019 memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the UN-recognised Government of National Accord of Libya, determining a new maritime delimitation between the two countries, violates international law and that it is therefore not legally binding for third states;

15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.


Last updated: 16 September 2020
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