BRUSSELS - Europe is at a crucial turning point and the discussions held by European Union leaders were about issues that are extremely important for the future of the EU, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a press conference held on Friday, after the end of the EU Summit in Brussels.
He said that the EU heads of state and government had discussed the leadership of the Union's institutions, the eurozone, the need for targeted action to address the climate crisis and also the EU's relations with Turkey and its recent illegal activities inside Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
He also underlined that the conclusions of the EU Summit regarding Turkey were achieved following an effort launched some time ago, in coordination with the Republic of Cyprus, to promote and highlight this issue.
Explaining, he pointed out that the EU communique on the summit's conclusions had: - unequivocally condemned Turkish actions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly the drilling inside Cyprus' EEZ a few days ago. - underlined the serious negative consequences of Turkey's actions for Euro-Turkish relations - Decided to take specific measures - including targeted measures - namely, sanctions against Turkey - invited the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to submit options for appropriate measures for the next meeting of the EU General Affairs Council in July.
" Such measures might concern sanctions against individuals or companies, the freezing of dialogue and cooperation in specific sectors and measures that may have significant economic repercussions on Turkey if it does not stop immediately its illegal activities," said Tsipras.
"It is the first time, after decades of violation of international law by Turkey that the EU, following coordinated actions by Greece and Cyprus, has so clearly and decisively condemned Turkey's actions and decided to take measures against Turkey over the violation of international law in our region," Tsipras said. Such a clear decision that was also accompanied by targeted measures has never been taken before, not even in the period after the incident at Imia in 1996, he said.
Tsipras referred to "a serious shift in favour of our national positions, which is a confirmation of our long and successful effort to highlight the major issues in the region and to acquire strong support in the region, in the EU and internationally," noting that this was "a very important development". Following the EU's latest decisions, Turkey must know that maintaining its current stance and attitude will have consequences and a cost, if it chooses to continue, Tsipras said.
"On our part we will continue to keep channels of communication open but we will not stop putting pressure on Turkey to cease its illegal actions and, once it has ceased, to start new talks on the Cyprus issue from the point where we left off at Crans Montana, in order to reach a fair and sustainable solution for Cyprus that cannot include guarantees and troops," he added.
European Union leaders had a thorough discussion on the EU's economy and decided to postpone the essential discussion on the new Long-term Fiscal Framework 2021-2027 until the next European Council meeting in October, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, in a press conference held after the end of the European Council.
He underlined that "with persistent efforts, we succeeded in securing the inclusion in the negotiations package for the new long-term fiscal framework the possibility of additional funding for Greece from the cohesion funds, so as to reinforce its investment potential." Explaining, he said that this was "the first important step for securing an additional 7.5 bln euro in funding for Greece, which is a major national success."
On the Prespes Agreement, Tsipras said that this promoted Greece's role and credibility on an international level and was extremely beneficial for Greece. "Imagine, at a time when we have to address intense Turkish provocations, to have Turkish F-16s patrolling North Macedonia's air space on our northern borders. (The Prespes Agreement foresees that Greek military aircraft will supervise the country's air space). He also pointed out that the name of Greece's northern neighbour has been changed throughout Europe to "North Macedonia," adding that the benefits of the Agreement in the country's interest will soon be seen by all Greeks.
Asked if he was concerned over an incident with Turkey, he offered assurances that the Greeks "are and should feel totally safe" adding that there is no indication or forecast at present of such an incident and, in any case, the Greek Armed Forces and its allies are able to deter any such outcome.
PM Tsipras in Brussels: Greece to sign agreement for natural gas exploration with ExxonMobil
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the Greek government will sign an agreement with Exxon Mobil for natural gas exploration and exploitation in the sea plots south and west of the island of Crete, in comments following the end of a two-day European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.
Tsipras said that Greece is "moving ahead with development of its own Exclusive Economic Zone, like Cyprus in its own EEZ," and added that this is long-term plan, "not put together hurriedly," he underlined.
The Greek premier said that this is planning concerns the upgrading of Greece’s role in the region, and is a "decisive use of the wealth of its energy resources." "No one can stop us (pursuing this) decisively, and we ask our neighbors to respect international law," Tsipras concluded.