EU’s Borrell says Turkish gas drills off Cyprus ‘must stop’

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell meet at the Foreign Ministry in Nicosia on June 25, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 June 2020

EU’s Borrell says Turkish gas drills off Cyprus ‘must stop’

  • “Turkish illegal drillings must stop,” Borrell said
  • EU member state Cyprus in January accused Ankara of “piracy” due to its repeated drilling activity inside the island’s designated exclusive economic zone

NICOSIA: European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday that “illegal” Turkish drilling for gas off the divided island of Cyprus “must stop,” as he met Cypriot officials in Nicosia.
“Turkish illegal drillings must stop,” Borrell tweeted after meeting the Republic of Cyprus’ foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides.
The EU’s top diplomat — who is on a two-day visit to Nicosia — said he had discussed with Christodoulides how to “bolster regional stability” and de-escalate tensions.
“Delimitation of exclusive economic zones contested by Turkey must be done in full respect of international law and good faith, as proposed by Cyprus,” he added.
The Mediterranean island has been divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and a northern third under Turkish control since 1974, after Ankara’s troops occupied the area in response to a coup sponsored by a Greek military junta.
Last year, ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum made the biggest gas find off Cyprus so far, discovering a field holding an estimated five to eight trillion cubic feet.
EU member state Cyprus in January accused Ankara of “piracy” due to its repeated drilling activity inside the island’s designated exclusive economic zone.
“Turkey has opted to proceed with its sixth illegal drilling in less than a year, violating the sovereign rights of Cyprus, and further destabilising the region,” Christodoulides said after meeting Borrell on Thursday.
“Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’s maritime zones cannot be seen in isolation... they form part of an alarming behavior,” he added.
Borrell arrived in Cyprus from Greece, with Athens itself having recently raised concerns about Turkey’s approach to disputed maritime boundaries.
Speaking after Thursday’s meeting, Borrell also said the EU welcomed an “invitation by the Government of Cyprus to Turkey to negotiate in good faith the maritime delimitation between their relevant coasts.”
Turkey opposes unilateral exploration by the Republic of Cyprus and says Turkish Cypriots have rights to a share of the island’s offshore resources.
It has also insisted that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — recognized only by Ankara — itself has the right to explore around the entire island.
UN-backed talks on reunifying the island as a bizonal, bi-communal federation collapsed in July 2017 and have not resumed, in part because of the deep divisions over the offshore gas reserves.


UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

The Royal Navy has been deployed as recently as January 2019 in an attempt to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2020

UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

  • French parliamentarian called the plans a “political measure” that would not help the situation.
  • Roughly 4,000 people have made the dangerous trip from France to the UK so far this year.

LONDON: The UK has announced it will use the military to prevent migrants entering the country from France via the English Channel, but the plans have drawn criticism from French politicians and rights groups in the UK.

More than 4,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far this year, and many of those have done so in small and overburdened boats.

Responding to the escalating number of people attempting the journey, the Home Office officially requested last week that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) assist the Border Force in its duties.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her department was “working to make this route unviable” and announced on Sunday the appointment of a former Royal Marine to manage the government’s response to the crossings.

In response to Patel’s request, the MoD announced on Monday that it would send a Royal Air Force plane with spotters on board to assist the Border Force in its operations in the English Channel.

But the issue has caused tension between the UK and France.

The French National Assembly member for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, slammed the decision to use the military to prevent crossings as a useless “political measure.”

He said: “What is the British navy going to do if it sees a small boat? Is it going to shoot the boat? Is it going to enter French waters? It’s a political measure to show some kind of muscle but technically speaking it won’t change anything.”

Paris has also requested that London provides £30 million to fund French efforts to prevent migrants from attempting the dangerous crossing from their side.

Patel’s decision to use the military to prevent Channel crossings has also drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Bella Sankey, a barrister and director of Detention Action said: “The home secretary’s hysterical plea to the navy is as irresponsible as it is ironic. Pushbacks at sea are unlawful and would threaten human lives.

“No civilised country can even consider this, let alone a country with a tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution,” she added.

Migration has long been a hot button issue in British politics, and this will not be the first time authorities have used the military to enforce migration policies.

In January 2019, the Royal Navy sent three ships to the Channel to prevent migrant crossings, saying at the time that the deployment would “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.”