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EU Council “strongly condemns Turkey’s illegal actions in East Med and Aegean”

The European Council took a historical decision. For the first time, it condemns Turkey for its illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and underlines its full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece. Surprisingly, the European Council made a special reference to the two Greek soldiers in Turkish custody, and expressed its grave concern about the detention.

European Council conclusions on the Western Balkans and actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, 22 March 2018

Actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. In this context, it recalls Turkey’s obligation to respect International Law and good neighbourly relations, and normalize relations with all EU Member States including the Republic of Cyprus.
  4. 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.
  5. The European Council will remain seized of these matters.

The statement by the 28 European Union member states  at the EUCO – EU Summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday comes after Turkey detained the two Greek soldiers on March 1st and keeps them in high security prison without raising charges. The statement comes after Ankara’s  promise to prevent the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government from exploring for oil and gas and the continuous provocations against Greece in the Aegean Sea, violations of the Greek sovereign rights and the Turkish claims that several islands in the Aegean do not belong to Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades worked hard to bring such a Council decision.

In a telephone conversation with Tsipras on Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin promised to intervene to Erdogan about the Greek soldiers during the Turkish-Russian Council in Istanbul on April 3rd.

So far there has not been an official reaction by Turkey.

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