Turkey’s provocative behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Turkey’s provocative behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Aug 16, 2022
A serious response is necessary for the EU to signal that its Member States’ borders and maritime zones are EU borders and maritime zones.

On August 9, Turkey launched with much fanfare the drillship “Abdulhamid Han” into the Eastern Mediterranean for gas field exploration. At first, it was believed that the ship would enter the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) claimed by Cyprus and Greece. But international pressure seems to have convinced President Erdogan to keep it closer to Turkey’s coast for now. Turkey has engaged in multiple provocative actions in recent months, including demanding that Greek islands be demilitarised; and holding military exercises with its navy officers swimming up to the islands’ coast to show that they can easily invade them. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. Its army occupies 36% of the island and Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus. Greece is allowed by international law to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. However, Turkey has threatened since 1995 that it will declare war if Greece does so. The danger of a militarised crisis between Turkey and its two EU neighbours is constant and very real.

 Volt condemns all threats to the sovereignty and maritime rights of EU Member States, and calls on the Turkish government to stop engaging in such behaviour. The EU should closely monitor the current situation and under no circumstances allow Turkey to perform drilling in other countries’ EEZ or continue to threaten to invade. Should provocations continue, Turkey needs to be met with a decisive message. Immediate measures should include the prohibition of arms exports to Turkey - the same should be the case for any other countries violating human rights or threatening the EU’s territorial integrity.

A serious response is necessary for the EU to signal that its Member States’ borders and maritime zones are EU borders and maritime zones. A lack of a response sends the opposite message, both towards the Turkish government and any other government that violates Member States’ sovereignty. The EU should leave no doubt that it will not tolerate threats to its territory.