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EU commissioner raps Turkey over overflights, Cyprus

“Disputing Greece’s sovereignty over some of its islands is counterproductive and contradicts the escalation efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the European Union’s commissioner for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, said on Monday, presenting the annual report on bilateral EU-Turkish relations to the EU Parliament.

The reports of flights over populated Greek territory by Turkish fighter jets are also “a source of concern,” he said, adding that Turkey is “expected to unequivocally commit to good neighborly relations, international agreements and peaceful settlement of disputes having recourse if necessary to the International Court of Justice.”

According to Varhelyi’s report, “the biggest challenge with Turkey remains the lack of prospect for a solution to the Cyprus issue,” the EU official said, commenting on the breakdown of reunification talks.

“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,” he said, referring to the fenced-off southern quarter of Famagusta.

“Turkey remains a key partner for the EU in areas of common interest. It is positive that tensions with Turkey have decreased over the past months as Turkey’s provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean receded in 2021,” he said.

However, Varhelyi said: “Many of the concerns expressed by the European Parliament concur with our own findings and the position taken by the European Council. It confirms a worrying trend: Turkey has continued to move away from the EU. This is why accession negotiations with Turkey remain at a standstill.”