EU to impose sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling?

Clay Curtis
July 13, 2019

Turkey said on Wednesday it rejected Greek and European Union assertions that Turkish drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus was illegitimate, and said it showed the EU could not be an impartial mediator on the Cyprus problem.

In a statement that will cause dismay in Brussels, Ankara vowed to press ahead with offshore exploration to safeguard the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the offshore resources.

In Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, diplomats fear the showdown could trigger military confrontation, and worry Erdoğan may be looking for a showdown to divert attention from domestic troubles.

According to a draft statement by the European Council, with which most EU member-states are in agreement, the measures against Turkey would include suspending talks for a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and a halting of high-level dialogues for the time being.

"The Council endorses the (European) 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", it said.

"The EU should act on principles instead of taking the Greek Cypriot side".

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Its arrival came two months after another ship, the Fatih, began drilling off Cyprus's west coast escorted by a frigate.

Turkey already has a ship off Cyprus and Cyprus issued arrest warrants for its crew in June.

Last month the European Union threatened economic sanctions against Ankara.

"Turkey's drilling activities are fully granted by Turkish Cypriot Authorities, namely the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, within its continental shelf notified to United Nations", the statement said.

While Cyprus wants a tougher line on Turkey, it as failed to have arrested the crew of a Turkish ship drilling in the EEZ, parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize, after issuing an global warrant.

Egypt has also voiced protest against the Turkish drilling.

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