The European Parliament, by a margin of 631 votes in favor, 3 against and 59 abstentions, has agreed on a non-binding resolution in support of EU member Cyprus which urges EU leaders to “take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions”.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Ergodan infuriated the European Union and most of his NATO allies when, on November 15, he visited Varosha, an abandoned southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, itself a former major resort city on the island, which has been fenced-off and abandoned no-mans-land since the 1974 Turkish invasion, and subsequent occupation, of the northern third of Cyprus.
Erdogan has backed the partial re-opening of Varosha, a move that has been condemned by the United States, Greece and Greek Cypriots.
In its resolution, the parliament urged the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey as a result of Erdogan’s visit to the internationally unrecognized Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus. The European Parliament also called Turkey’s gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean “illegal”, a charge that Ankara has angrily rejected.
The parliament noted that EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low, saying that Erdogan’s illegal and unilateral military actions in the Eastern Mediterranean are violating the sovereignty of EU members Greece and Cyprus. Members of the European Parliament pointed out that Ankara’s’s direct military support for its Turkic-speaking ally Azerbaijan against Turkey’s historical enemy, Armenia, in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as its support for radical Islamist militias in Libya and Syria – which are often deployed against regional Western-backed groups – has ushered in a far more aggressive and belligerent approach on the part of Erdogan when dealing with his European and Near East neighbors.
“Turkey knows what it needs to do,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French parliamentary hearing this week. “Confrontation or collaboration, it’s up to them.”
The latest resolution is expected to help boost support for France’s earlier push for EU sanctions against Turkey, which were first discussed in October over natural gas rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
A member of NATO, Turkey has slid ever-increasingly towards authoritarianism under Erdogan’s rule. Driven by his Islamist roots and neo-Ottoman irredentism, Erdogan has also embraced Turkey’s ultranationalist cause which has helped crater Turkey’s once-close relationship with the EU, US, and Israel.