EU Shipowners Want Turkey to Open Ports to Cyprus

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Joining Cyprus’ call to Turkey to admit ships from the legitimate government of the divided island, the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) said there should be a political solution to the long-standing prohibition.

Cyprus is a member of the European Union – not including the occupied northern third Turkey seized in a 1974 invasion – and said it would make financial and political sense for the decades-long ban to be lifted, with Turkey wanting to join the bloc.

Turkey has been imposing restrictive measures on Cypriot-flagged ships since 1987, Claes Berglund, President-elect of ECSA said, according to the Cyprus Mail which reported on the shipowners call for a solution.

“Unilateral actions that hamper the free flow of goods and services or target specific nations to prevent them performing transport services are condemned as strongly as possible by ECSA. Political solutions are strongly supported,” he said, the paper reported.

Berglund, talking to the Cyprus News Agency, suggested the EU consider concentrating dossiers concerning shipping under a new Commissioner responsible for shipping.  “It is without doubt that the current structure is suboptimal and makes EU maritime policy not as effective and efficient as should be,” he added.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades earlier said Turkey – which has sent energy vessels and warships into the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast – should end its ban prohibiting Cypriot ships.

Speaking at the 30th Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber in Limassol, he said Cyprus would step up efforts to remove the unlawful ban imposed by Turkey – which doesn’t recognize his legitimate government, a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join.

He said the blocking of Cypriot ships – Cypriot planes are banned in Turkey too – was a clear violation of international law.

“Our efforts to remove these anachronistic and illegal restrictions will be further intensified as they are a clear violation of international law,” Anastasiades said.