The European Union Foreign Affairs Council adopted sanctions against Turkey in four areas because of the natural gas drilling activities Turkey conducts in the Eastern Mediterranean with the ships Fatih and Yavuz. The EU being Turkey’s most important economic and trade partner, EU sanctions decision and the implication that more sanctions could be on the way is not conducive to deescalating the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. The European Union had committed a grave error in allowing the accession of Southern Cyprus into the Union before the resolution of the dispute between the Southern Cyprus Greek Administration and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and a complete state of peace being restored on the island. The European Union’s second mistake was not lifting the embargo against the TRNC, which had voted in favour of the Annan Plan. Regrettably, the European Union is making a third mistake with respect to the natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. We do not accept this approach by the European Union that is a snub to Turkey and the TRNC. European Union sanctions against Turkey would in no way help the peaceful resolution of the Cyprus Dispute.
We cooperate with the European Union on the refugee problem and counter-terrorism and think this cooperation is mutually beneficial. Some EU countries benefit from the energy transmission lines transiting Turkey. A Turkey that is compatible and in cooperation with the EU is also an important gain in terms of peace and security in the region. In light of all these facts, EU sanctions against Turkey constitute an unfair action and have no legitimate basis. On the other hand, Mr Foreign Minister’s attitude of dismissal towards the sanctions represents another indication that the AKP government does not value Turkey-EU relations.
Our people should know that the underlying reason for the European Union going as far as adopting sanctions is the flawed foreign policies of the AKP governments that have led to the isolation of our country in the Eastern Mediterranean.
AKP’s adventurist policies lacking in vision and incongruous with the capacity of our country are the reasons why Turkey became isolated, lost its manoeuvring capability, and got stuck in hard power dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean. As a result of these policies, Turkey does not have an ambassador in the Eastern Mediterranean countries of Syria, Egypt, and Israel.
Turkey must conduct its Eastern Mediterranean policies in such a way as to protect the rights of the TRNC on one side and end Turkey’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean on the other.
A process of dialogue should be started post-haste with the countries in the region to prevent further isolation and irrelevance of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. For this reason, our ambassadors to Cairo, Damascus, and Tel Aviv and consul general in Jerusalem should be reinstated. Turkey should start work on discussing in detail the declaration of a Mediterranean exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as soon as possible, with all implications that this would create taken into consideration.