European Parliament resolution urges sanctions on Turkey 

Erdogan (C) and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar (L) arrive to make a joint statement in Varosha, in the Turkish-held north of the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, on November 15, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 27 November 2020

European Parliament resolution urges sanctions on Turkey 

  • MEPs found that Turkey’s decision to partially reopen Varosha weakened prospects of a solution to the conflict
  • Ankara’s move has been criticized by the US, Greece as well as Greek Cypriots

ANKARA: The European Parliament has called for sanctions on Turkey following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s controversial visit to Northern Cyprus on Nov. 15.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), agreeing on a resolution in support of Cyprus, urged EU leaders to “take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions.”
The parliament’s non-binding resolution on Nov. 26 emphasized that Turkey’s gas exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean were illegal. EU leaders are due to meet in Brussels between Dec. 10-11.
MEPs also found that Turkey’s decision to partially reopen the fenced-off suburb of Varosha, in the city of Famagusta, weakened prospects of a far-reaching solution to the decades-long Cypriot conflict.
The Turkish army fenced off Varosha in 1974 after its military intervention, while Greek Cypriots who fled from the resort town could not return to their homes.
“MEPs call on Turkey to transfer Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the UN (in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984) and to refrain from any actions that alter the demographic balance on the island through a policy of illegal settlement,” the resolution said.
Ankara’s move has been criticized by the US, Greece as well as Greek Cypriots.
The resolution was denounced by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, which criticized the European Parliament for “being prejudiced and disconnected from the realities” on Cyprus. 
During the EU summit some sanctions, on sectors such as shipping, energy and banking, are expected to be adopted, depending on Germany’s mediation efforts as the current holder of the EU’s six-month presidency.
Laura Batalla Adam, a political analyst and the secretary general of the EU-Turkey Forum, said that even if EU leaders were divided, the possibility of sanctions remained on the table.
“The decision to reopen Varosha just adds to an already extremely tense situation between Turkey and the EU,” she told Arab News. “The next days are going to be decisive as to what kind of sanctions could be imposed, depending on Ankara’s moves in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
According to Batalla Adam, a moratorium on drilling activities until the two sides can enter into negotiations to settle their dispute would be a way to ease tensions and start working on a more positive agenda.
Turkey will continue its seismic studies near Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29 with its Oruc Reis research vessel.
Ankara pulled the vessel back in September to allow more room for diplomacy and negotiations with Greece, but sent it back to the disputed area, provoking a harsh reaction from EU members Cyprus, Greece, Germany and France.


Syrian Air makes first Aleppo to Beirut flight since 2011

Updated 15 January 2021

Syrian Air makes first Aleppo to Beirut flight since 2011

  • Syrian Air said a weekly flight between Aleppo and Beirut will continue
  • Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people

BEIRUT: Syrian Air conducted its first flight in a decade between the northern city of Aleppo and Lebanon’s capital Beirut early Friday, resuming a round-trip route that’s been halted since Syria’s conflict began in 2011.
Precautionary measures against the coronavirus were in place, with passengers required to show PCR tests taken less than three days before the flight, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.
The head of Syrian Air in Lebanon, Rashed Attar, said the flight arrived in Beirut carrying 36 passengers and returned to Aleppo with 44 passengers. Attar said a weekly flight between Aleppo and Beirut will continue.
Syrian Air currently conducts three flights a week between the Syrian capital of Damascus and Beirut.
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial center, had its airport closed for years because of the conflict. The city was divided until late 2016, when government forces captured rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo.
Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people. The fighting has displaced half the country’s population, including more than five million who are refugees outside the country.