BRUSSELS – Reports of flights over inhabited Greek territory by Turkish fighter jets “are a source of concern,” said EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood & Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi while addressing the European Parliament on Monday.
The commissioner was speaking on the 2021 Annual Report on Turkey in a plenary session about Turkey-EU bilateral relations.
“Disputing Greece’s sovereignty over some of its islands is counterproductive and contradicts the escalation efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he pointed out.
Várhelyi underlined that Turkey “remains a key regional partner,” and said it was “positive that tensions with Turkey have decreased over the past months as Turkey’s provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean receded in 2021.” But, he said, “the biggest challenge with Turkey remains the lack of prospect for a solution to the Cyprus issue. We need Turkey to stop its provocative actions in Varosha and exert its influence so that the Northern Cypriot Community engages in the UN led settlement negotiations.”
Referring to what he said are concerns expressed by the European Parliament which “concur with our own findings and the position taken by the European Council,” he spoke of “a worrying trend: Turkey has continued to move away from the EU. This is why accession negotiations with Turkey remain at a standstill.”