Following a meeting of the Atlantic Council, the Turkish Prime Minister announced that ‘if the Greek Cypriots intend to monopolise energy sources and launch tendering procedures on the international markets as if they were the sole owners thereof, disregarding the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, we will also carry out prospecting in the same area alongside the Turkish Cypriots, availing ourselves of those self-same rights. If the negotiations drag out, the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot administration could carry out joint extraction operations and use the energy for peaceful purposes.’

Turkey was in fact adopting a highly aggressive stance towards the Republic of Cyprus, an EU Member State, going so far as to deny its very existence by referring to a ‘Greek Cypriot administration’, and encroaching on its EEZ by sending vessels to prospect for hydrocarbons there.

In view of this:

— Does the High Representative consider the stance adopted by Turkey to be in accordance with EC law and its basic tenets? Is it not an infringement of the recent EP resolution on Cyprus?
— What view does the High Representative take of such conduct on the part of a prospective Member State and what action does she propose to take?

Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission

In its conclusions of 23/24 October 2014, the European Council expressed serious concern about the renewed tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and urged Turkey to show restraint and to respect Cyprus' sovereignty over its territorial sea and Cyprus' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone. Under the current circumstances, the European Council considered it more important than ever to ensure a positive climate so that negotiations for a comprehensive Cyprus' settlement can resume.

The European Union has consistently and repeatedly stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member States. These include the right to enter into bilateral agreements and to explore and exploit their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The EU has also stressed the need to respect the sovereignty of Member States over their territorial sea.

This issue was discussed thoroughly at the recent visit of High Representative Federica Mogherini, together with Commissioner Hahn and Commissioner Stylianides to Turkey on 8 and 9 December. All sides stressed the importance of reaching a comprehensive settlement to the benefit of all and, thus, the need to contribute to a positive climate for resumption of the negotiations. The EU continues to encourage and support contacts with and between all relevant stakeholders to this end.