EU agrees to sanction Turkey over gas drilling off Cypriot coast
search

EU agrees to sanction Turkey over gas drilling off Cypriot coast

European bloc will cut off high-level talks with Ankara, freeze aviation deal negotiations and slash funds as punishment for its pushing ahead with ‘illegal’ drilling

Journalists walk next to the drilling ship 'Yavuz' scheduled to search for oil and gas off Cyprus, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul, on June 20, 2019. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)
Journalists walk next to the drilling ship 'Yavuz' scheduled to search for oil and gas off Cyprus, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul, on June 20, 2019. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union on Monday agreed on measures to punish Turkey for pursuing drilling operations off Cyprus despite repeated warnings.

The EU will halt high-level dialogue with Turkey, suspend talks over an aviation agreement and cut 145.8 million euros ($164 million) in pre-accession financial funds allocated for 2020.

Foreign ministers from the bloc also told the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, to keep working on possible financial sanctions targeting those involved in the drilling operations.

And the European Investment Bank has been asked to revisit the conditions set out for providing financial support to Ankara.

The EU last month warned Turkey it could face sanctions if it did not cease what the bloc called “illegal” drilling in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.

The drilling vessel Fatih, which was deployed by Turkey to search for gas and oil in waters considered part of the Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, seen on June 24, 2019. (AFP)

Last week, diplomats began discussing what measures to impose.

It was the discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean that sparked the dispute between EU member Cyprus and Turkey.

Ankara sent two ships to carry out drilling off the Cypriot coast despite the warnings from the EU.

Cyprus has been divided between the Republic of Cyprus and a northern third under Turkish military control since 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by a Greek military junta.

The tensions over gas drilling are also likely related to the collapse of peace talks in 2017, experts say.

While negotiations to reunify the island have not restarted, Cyprus has moved to start gas and oil exploration by issuing licences.

read more:
less
comments
more