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By John Helmer, Moscow

Under cover of its Russian S-400 air defence batteries, and ignoring US and European sanctions, Turkey is going on the offensive at sea, surrounding Cyprus, and by land, launching a weapon against the European Union against which there is no defence: a Turkish cannon firing 150,000 people at Europe’s borders each month. They are the refugees from the wars the US and NATO launched in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

A Russian analysis entitled “Turkey will open the door to Europe for millions of refugees”, written by Vladimir Dobrinin, was published in Vzglyad (“View”) on July 24. An English translation follows below.

This should be read in conjunction with the strategic consequences of the Greek and Cypriot governments not to mount a military defence of themselves and their territorial waters and seabed resources, but to apply instead to the European Union (EU) for sanctions against Turkey, and to the US Congress and Trump Administration for an American protectorate.

The terms of the protectorate which Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades agreed to months ago include sanctions against Russia: a ban on Russian Navy portcalls; removal of Russian bank accounts in Cyprus; and censorship of Greek-language media reporting “pro-Russian” news or views. For more details, read this

On July 7 Tsipras was defeated in the Greek election by the New Democracy (ND) party and Kyriacos Mitsotakis replaced him as prime minister. He took immediate and direct control of the Greek intelligence agency (EYP) and has so far retained its director as well as the serving Greek military commanders.

US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (left) met Kyriacos Mitsotakis (right) on June 6 following ND’s victory in European and local elections. Their “talks reportedly also centered on bilateral relations and regional developments. Mitsotakis reportedly repeated the party’s support for strengthening the process of Strategic Dialogue between Athens and Washington.”  Pyatt was US Ambassador to Ukraine between 2013 and August 2016, and one of the principal plotters of the Maidan putsch of February 2014.

Source: https://twitter.com/ Follow Pyatt’s Twiiter account  for details of his Greek schemes. Standing to Pyatt’s left in the Tweet picture in Athens is Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the region, Philip Reeker, and to his left, the new Greek Defence Minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos.  For “modernizing US-Greek military agreements” which Pyatt and Reeker discussed with Panagiotopoulos,  Pyatt’s tweet text means the reversal of the 30-year old Greek policy of prohibiting US nuclear weapons, warheads and propulsion units,  from being stored on Greek territory and loaded on US aircraft or naval vessels at Greek bases.

For Russian assessments of the Turkish, Greek and Cypriot strategies, read this

Mitsotakis is visiting Cyprus this week.  The most urgent issue for his talks with Cypriot officials is the Turkish military offensive in Cypriot waters.

On July 11, Cyprus sent to the United Nations Secretary-General a letter detailing the illegal maritime operations of two Turkish vessels for seismic testing and drilling of the seabed. The Turkish ships are the Yavuz (“Resolute”), operating off the northeast coast of the island and the Fatih (“Conqueror”), off the southwest of the island; for vessel details, read this.  They are being protected by Turkish Navy escorts; they in turn are supported by Turkish air and naval exercises.

The letter and accompanying maps can be read here (in Greek).  The headline reads: “Cyprus to the UN: Turkey has encircled the island”.

The Yavuz under way towards Cyprus, with Turkish naval escort. Source: https://www.liberal.gr/

The official letter is in English. The only available version, as reported by The Liberal, is in Greek. Translating back into English, the Cypriot Government charges the Turks with “continuing provocation and illegal actions against the Republic of Cyprus. I turn first to Turkey’s illegal drilling operations in the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus. On July 8, 2019, the navigable drilling vessel Yavuz of the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Company, accompanied by warships and support vessels, was deployed within the Republic of Cyprus’ Territorial Waters, approximately 10 nautical miles south of the Karpas peninsula, east of the Karpas Peninsula)… [Drilling is planned] to continue to September 30, 2019, as defined in an unauthorized Maritime Announcement issued by Turkey. I note that this is the second planned drilling operation within two months of the onset of ongoing illegal drilling operations within the EEZ[Exclusive Economic Zone] / Continental Shelf of Cyprus… Turkey claims that drilling is being carried out on the basis of a supposed license by the so-called TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, occupied by Turkish military invasion since July 1974]. It should be borne in mind that any exploration activity, including seismic surveys and drilling operations, carried out on behalf of the so-called TRNC is illegal as a matter of international law.”


Source: https://www.liberal.gr/

The Cyprus Government letter continues: “According to the relevant rules, Turkey, the occupying power, cannot exploit the natural resources of the area which is illegally occupied. With regard to illegal drilling operations in the EEZ / Continental Shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, I would like to remind you that on May 4, 2019, the state-owned oil company TPAO [Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı] [drilling vessel] Fatih, accompanied by warships, commenced operations within the continental shelf / EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus and remains there about 36 nautical miles from the west coast of Cyprus. As shown in the map in Annex II, the drilling target is 30 nautical miles from the median line between the coasts of the two states, to the coast of Cyprus, and at least 83 nautical miles [northwest] from the nearest Turkish coast.”


Source: https://www.liberal.gr/

“Turkey has, in fact, encircled the island of Cyprus, carrying out illegal hydrocarbon exploration activities, accompanied by numerous warships, which, along with repeated Turkish military exercises led to the intensive militarization of the extensive maritime area around Cyprus. Turkey’s overall practice in these areas is not only a serious violation of applicable international law but also a misuse of freedom of navigation, violates the principle of peaceful use of the seas, jeopardizes maritime safety and constitutes a threat to peace and international security.”

On July 15, the European Council  [EC] issued a statement condemning the Turkish drilling operations, with this one-paragraph announcement of sanctions: “In light of Turkey’s continued and new illegal drilling activities, the Council decides to suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agrees not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being. The Council endorses the Commission’s proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending.”

Source: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/

The Council also reported that before deciding on these sanctions, “foreign ministers discussed the external aspects of migration. Ministers agreed on the need to step up efforts to address the issue more effectively. In particular, they noted the need to increase financial resources, in particular for the EU Trust Fund for Africa. Foreign ministers discussed the importance of accelerating resettlements of persons in need of international protection. They also highlighted the need to make progress on the issue of disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea, which is the responsibility of Justice and Home Affairs ministers.”

The Vzglyad report doesn’t mince words with the forecast: “Turkey will open the door to Europe for millions of refugees. A wave of refugees threatens to flood Europe again.” 

For details of the Turkey-EU agreement of March 18, 2016, start here.  The map shows that following the commencement of the pact, refugee arrivals to the EU states in 2016 dropped from just over one million to just under 142,000.

Source: https://www.dw.com/ Here is a German summary of March 2018 of the people flows from Turkey in the two years from the signing of the refugee control agreement. Note that “according to the United Nations, Turkey has been hosting 2,900,000 refugees. Turkey, however, says that their number recently rose to around 3,500,000. Turkey repeatedly threatened to terminate the agreement because, firstly, the EU has not paid the stipulated amount, and secondly, the visa freedom for Turkish citizens provided for under the agreement has not been implemented.”

“For two days now the European Commission has had almost no words to answer the unprecedented démarche of Turkey. Ankara has now refused to fulfill the famous agreement reached at the time [March 2016] with Brussels – in response to the money and the promise of visa-free travel, Turkey undertook to stop the flow of thousands of refugees in the EU. What happened?

“On Monday, July 22, the Turkish government announced that it suspends the agreement on the readmission of immigrants signed with the European Union in 2016. This was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in an interview with radio station TGRT. The diplomat informed that ‘this measure is connected not only with the recent sanctions imposed by the European Union on Turkey for the exploration of gas fields in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus’,  but also with the failure of the EU to fulfill the promise to cancel visas for Turkish citizens entering the EU. The readmission agreement and visa exemption were to enter into force simultaneously. They didn’t. We have suspended the readmission agreement,’ the Minister said.

“Recall that in accordance with the agreement, Turkey has pledged not only to become a barrier on the route  ‘from Arabs to Europeans’, but also a point of reception of illegal immigrants forcibly returned from the Old World. For the service of depositing on its territory those hordes of seekers of a better life fleeing from the Middle East, the EU pledged to pay Ankara six billion euros and allow the Turks visa-free visit to the countries of the Schengen area.

“The latter, however, came with a number of reservations. To be precise, Turkey had to prove that it met 72 conditions set by Brussels. Among them there were ‘ensuring the rights of minorities (mainly sexual)’, ‘freedom of speech and non-persecution for political reasons’, ‘ensuring the independence of the courts’, and many others. Then numerous European media informed everyone that ‘already in June 2016, the visa-free regime for Turkey may become a reality.’ However, nothing has changed since then –  no-visa for Turkey looks like an unattainable dream.

“Moreover, since July 15, 2016,  Turkey has not aimed to fulfill the European requirements. The attempted coup [of that date] forced President Recep Erdogan to toughen his attitude to the opposition, and in March 2019 he called for the restoration of the death penalty as capital punishment in the country. All this actually put an end to the prospects of abolishing visas with Europe…

“It is possible that Brussels is not particularly worried about the visa-free failure,  and maybe even sighed with relief. But regarding the [latest] statement of the Turkish side on the suspension of the agreement on the containment of migrants, the EU will be seriously concerned. Of the possible answers to the sanctions imposed by Brussels against Ankara for conducting gas exploration in the waters of Cyprus, this is the most unexpected for Europe, and the most painful.

“After the signing of the agreement in 2016, the number of immigrants arriving to the Greek Islands has decreased dramatically. If in the summer of 2015 to Europe (mostly through the land border with Greece and the Aegean Sea waters around the islands)  through Turkey there were  150 000 people a month, a year later this figure fell to 50 000, and by the beginning of 2017, about 3000 people a month.

“But now along the back of the tolerant European Union runs a chill: a new tsunami of illegal immigrants becomes a realistic prospect. Erdogan has already proved his determination by acquiring the Russian S-400 missile defence system, despite the most severe pressure from NATO. It will not be difficult for him to open the gateways that restrain migrants. Moreover, the money received from the EU has already been consumed.

“And it seems that in the case of negotiations on the continuation of the [March 2016] treaty on the containment of refugees, the conversation will not be so much about the new sums of compensation, as about the gas fields near the Turkish (unrecognized, but in practice Turkish) part of Cyprus. And the position of Brussels is seen as weak. Cavusoglu, however, diplomatically asked Brussels to act as a ‘mediator’ in the negotiations between Turkey and Cyprus, and not to side with the latter.

“The head of the Turkish Ministry of Interior Süleyman Soylu spoke more directly. He hinted that Turkey can use the control of irregular migration as a tool of pressure on Brussels.

Left: Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu; right: Interior Minister Süleyman Hasan Soylu.

“It is obvious that Europe has left us alone in this matter. An approving pat on the shoulder has ceased to suit us. If Turkey had not taken decisive measures in its time, no European government would have survived even six months [the invasion of refugees]. If you want, we will try [to open the doors to Europe]”, the Anadolu agency quotes Soylu. And the Spanish El Mundo found it necessary to remind: “at the moment in Turkey there are up to three million Syrian refugees who have not reached Europe.”

“Then what has Brussels responded to the démarche of Turkey? Almost nothing: the European Commission through the mouth of the commissioner for relations with the press Natasha Berto spoke in the traditional style: ‘guys, let’s live together.’ ‘ We believe that both parties will adhere to the signed agreement,’ the EC representative said.

“These words made exactly the same impression on Turkey as the protest marches of politicians with flowers in their hands and ‘We Are for Peace’ drawings on the asphalt made by adults with the minds of children. Ankara’s position is that it isn’t satisfied with Brussels;  according to the German website World News Monitor, ‘Cavusoglu said in response that his country is not frightened by threats to exclude Turkey from NATO, because these threats are a priori unrealizable.’

“ ‘If the EU expects that we are ready to trample 50 years of waiting at the doors of the [EU] Bloc in anticipation of when we can open them,  it’s in vain. We are developing new principles of our foreign policy and we will inform everybody about them in early August,’ the Turkish edition of Sabah quotes Ankara’s chief diplomat.

“It seems that the words of the Turkish Minister of Interior that the European Union states cannot cope with the invasion if the Turks open the door to Europe are not far from the truth.”

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