NICOSIA- As the European Union mulls harder sanctions on Turkey for unlawfully drilling for oil and as in Cypriot sovereign waters, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, said reuniting the island split by a 1974 invasion could bring benefits to both countries and the region.
“This would be it. And a united Cyprus inside the European Union. This would be the game changer, not only for the drilling activities but also for Cyprus itself and the European Union and the entire region,” she said, reported Kathimerini.
Her comments came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, furious that the EU wants to go beyond soft sanctions to consider travel bans and freezing assets as his country’s bid to get into the bloc has stalled for 14 years, said he would unleash millions more refugees and migrants on the continent, through already overwhelmed Greek islands.
She spoke during a European Parliamentary plenary debate about Turkey drilling in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in defiance of the legitimate government on the island that belongs to the EU.
“What I want to stress is this – I said also in the beginning: sanctions and the framework of introducing sanctions, is an instrument to put pressure and to try and provoke a change. The objective here is to change the attitude, stop the drillings, and – I am surprised not many of you did not underline this – try to help the UN finding what would be the real solution the settlement of the Cyprus issue,” she explained.
That was in reference to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wanting to restart reunification talks that fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied northern third and wanted the right of military intervention.
While she sideways reached out to Turkey to stop its drilling, Mogherini repeated the EU’s support for Cyprus. “If the rights, if the sovereignty of one of our member-states is violated, as it is the case this moment with this Turkish drilling activities, the rest of the EU has to come together and not only show solidarity, but also act in solidarity with Cyprus,” she said.