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EU Sanctions Turkey Over Drilling in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone

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EU Sanctions Turkey Over Drilling in Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone

Click to see full-size image

On July 15th, the European Union’s foreign ministers decided to impose sanctions on Turkey over its drilling activities within the territorial waters of member state Cyprus.

The EU maintains that those activities are illegal.

The sanctions include freezing most high-level contacts with Turkey and cutting the flow of funds to the country. No sanctions that target specific Turkish companies involved in the offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean were introduced.

The decision includes a freeze of pre-accession assistance to the tune of 146 million euros, the suspension of negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and a halting of high-level dialogues in the fields of economy, energy, transport and agriculture – as well as the suspension of lending activities of the European Investment Bank.

“Recalling the Council conclusions of 18 June 2019 and previous European Council conclusions, notably those of 20 June 2019, the Council deplores that, despite the European Union’s repeated calls to cease its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey continued its drilling operations west of Cyprus and launched a second drilling operation northeast of Cyprus within Cypriot territorial waters. The Council reiterates the serious immediate negative impact that such illegal actions have across the range of EU-Turkey relations. The Council calls again on Turkey to refrain from such actions, act in a spirit of good neighbourliness and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus in accordance with international law.”

EU Sanctions Turkey Over Drilling in Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone

Position of Turkish drill and support vessels in the eastern Mediterranean. Click to see full-size image.

The foreign ministers reiterated that the EU is working on targeted sanctions in light of Turkey’s continuing controversial drilling practices. In doing so, they sought to strike a delicate balance between sending a clear message to Ankara and agreeing on measures that won’t harm the interests of EU nations or cut all ties with Turkey.

The decision to impose sanctions was lauded by new Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

“I was positively impressed by the unanimous decision by all my colleagues on the issue of Turkey’s provocations regarding Cyprus’ sovereign rights,” Dendias said. He added that the EU’s position is a reminder to Turkey of the consequences that may result if its behavior goes against international law.

EU foreign ministers also warned that they will prepare measures targeting individuals and companies involved in Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On its part, Turkey condemned the decision saying that it shows “how prejudiced and biased the European Union is on the Cyprus issue as Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights to the natural resources of the island, are not mentioned and ignored.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry further added that this decision is the latest example of how Greeks and Greek Cypriots abuse EU membership in line with their maximalist positions and how other EU countries become an instrument for carrying out this abuse.

Those “decisions will not impact our determination in any way to carry on with hydrocarbon activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, calling it “meaningful” that the EU’s move came on the third anniversary of a failed coup attempt.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC (the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) also has rights to the resources in the area.

Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels- Fatih and most recently Yavuz- to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.

The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.

Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened in the situation. In 1983, the TRNC was founded with assistance from the Turksih military and political leadership. Turkey is the only state that recognizes the TRNC as an independent state. The rest of the world sees the TRNC as a part of the Republic of Cyprus.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

Turkey, which recently dispatched a second drilling ship off Cyprus, said a July 13 proposal by the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state for cooperation and an equal sharing of the energy resources should be seen as an “important opportunity” for a solution.

“Instead of encouraging the sides to come together and seize this opportunity, the EU’s decisions to act against Turkey are ineffective, detached from reality and not constructive,” the Foreign Ministry said. “As in the past, our country will decisively protect its and Turkish Cypriots’ rights and increase its activities in this regard.”

EU Sanctions Turkey Over Drilling in Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone

Map of the overlapping claims. Click to see full-size image

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  • Rob

    US and EU are a failed terrorist organization. In retaliation Erdogan should not wait and block the Bosphorus strait. This is a big opportunity that God has given to Turkey. God is very kind to Turkey. Turkey can also lock own aerospace for US and EU member states and blockade Israel. Turkey is a great country.

    • mhtsaropinigitakis

      and then they nuked Turkey and rob got a new asshole!! happy ending

  • occupybacon

    EU is a pussy anyway, Turkey wouldn’t dare to mess with a powerful state from EU but nobody from the EU would go at war with Turkey over a weak country like Cyprus. Or with Russia over Estonia so on. European Army is one of the greatest bull shit of Macron to pretend France is not USA’s bitch.

    • verner

      occupyfrigginbacon – shut the fuck up.

  • Andrei

    Turkey wont stand a chance against European army not even the slightest chance.. Turkey is playing whit fire,, The y help Alqaeda, and now they are drilling outside their borders without permission.. tic tac tic tac, soon Turkey will find out what is mean by sanctions, .. No more European allowed in Turkey, Turkey has a huge income from tourism let’s close the borders for tourism.. n

    • verner

      there is no european army although france would love to have one. nato is the name of the game but even within that organization you will find dissent. most members are happy to care for its own and not overly interested in far away brouhahas

    • Sinbad2

      What European army?

      • Mustafa Mehmet

        Exactly he’s got no idea what’s his talking about

    • Mustafa Mehmet

      Dumbo tick tock tick tock tick tock don’t wait cross borders hurry up

    • Ronald

      Turkey is the “European Army”, other than a few US boots holding Germany down, the rest are just for show.
      Both Turkey and EUROPE have supported the Al Qaeda jihadists in Syria.
      European governments claim to be fighting the very guys they are supporting.
      Your right, boycott Turkey.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    Turkey is not a country, it is a disease.

    • verner

      nah the disease ridden country is the disintegrating states of A, crumbling at every seam and need a militarized police force to hold it together. and to top it off, you have a certified idiot as a president and the constitution is a joke and the legal system is a joke and the people’s rights do not exist. washington allowed itself to be taken over by the squatters who now dictates what washington should say and do. that should be an embarrassment for any sound american – shame on you!

  • verner

    to have uk involved in a settlement discussion is a sure sign that it will be bent from the start, I mean, they are called the perfide albion for a reason. – other interests are involved and since erdogan hates israel (which country is trying to find a way onto cyprus to get its gas to europe, over lebanon’s seabed and turkey’s) he’s unlikely to bow to the european union, and he shouldn’t. after all, the cia and mossad masterminded the coup against erdogan in 2016, probably with the tacit approval of the european union and thus here we are. turkey has put its independence on display and will not bow down. it should be known that pompeo visited lebanon and demanded right of way over lebanon’s seabed for an israeli gas pipeline – lebanon said no way josé and the disintegrating states immediately issued its fatwa (sanctions) on two hezbollah-related politicians.

    the alternative for the squatters is to divert the palestinian gas (it’s not the squatters it palestine’s gas which the squatters and their backers conveniently fail to mention) to a liquification factory in egypt and thereby goes into competition with qatar and other liquified gas producer and that is a seriously uneconomical solution for the stolen gas.

    • occupybacon

      England are called Perfide Albion for a reason – Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church gave them that nickname. Not for the reasons you try to endorse.

      • verner

        the taken and accepted meaning of perfide albion is that it’s a pejorative relative to england that is treacherous and untrustworthy – the origin of the phrase is of little value. what is more interesting is the meaning it has today – good day troll and as usual you fail to get the gist of an article and spews inanities of little value for other readers.(do me a favour and leave my comments well alone)

  • Ronald

    With Turkey throwing its money away on three war fronts, on its southern border, the Syrians in Idlib, the Kurdish , and in Libya, it is time for Cypress to become Greek again.

    • Mustafa Mehmet

      Make sure you wear Nike trainers helps you run away faster from great Turkish army

  • peter mcloughlin

    The EU ‘sought to strike a delicate balance between sending a clear message to Ankara and agreeing on measures that won’t harm the interests of EU nations or cut all ties with Turkey.’
    The protection of interests is vital: interests determine war or peace.
    https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

  • Sinbad2

    Cyprus was originally Greek, then various invaders claimed it, the last being the UK.
    When Turkish activists started claiming Cyprus, the UK did nothing?

    The Greeks had wanted to align with the Soviet Union at the end of WWII, so the US and UK bombed some democracy into them.
    I think the UK allowed Turkey to invade Cyprus as a punishment to Greece for not accepting their vassal state status. Turkey seemed a more reliable ally and source of cannon fodder back then.

    So it is just another example of how almost all international tension stems from the actions of FUKUS.

  • Cannot blame any one, it’s full of politics

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