Under Article 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union, the Union is obliged, in its relations with the wider world, to seek to cultivate peace and normality, solidarity between peoples and compliance with international law.

This clearly includes the international agreements that have irrevocably established the status of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, along with the principle of border inviolability. However, this principle and the provisions of international law have recently been called into question by the Turkish Defence Minister, who claimed that Greece exercised only provisional de facto sovereignty over 16 of its islands and that they in fact belonged to the Republic of Turkey(1)

These utterances show that Turkey is once again seeking to create tension and call into question the principles of international law applicable to the Aegean. As a result, Greece is still, at a time of economic hardship, being forced to incur costs of several million euros annually to deal with the problem.(2)

In view of this:

What action will the High Representative take in response to these unacceptable acts of provocation by Turkey in seeking to challenge the territorial integrity of an EU Member State?

Answer given by Mr Hahn on behalf of the Commission

The Commission is aware of the issues raised by the Honourable Members. In its 2014 Turkey progress report, the Commission noted that Greece has made formal complaints about repeated and increased violations of their territorial waters and airspace by Turkey, including flights over Greek islands. At the same time, the Commission welcomed the fact that the cooperation between Greece and Turkey to improve bilateral relations were continuing.

In line with the Negotiating Framework and previous European Council and Council conclusions, the Council has reiterated 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 expressed once again serious concern, and urges Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions, which could damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes.’

The Commission would like to assure Honourable Members that it is following these issues closely and will report on them in its regular Progress Report on Turkey this autumn.