The EU has decided to impose economic sanctions on Turkey because of its drilling activities offshore Cyprus. A legal framework has been set up to support travel bans and freezes assets, details of which will be decided later.
South Cyprus has repeatedly complained of Turkey’s incursions into its maritime economic zones by drilling off the island.
“I am satisfied with the decision of the EU, which is actively supporting the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and legality in Cyprus’ sea,” President Nicos Anastasiades said after the decision was announced.
EU ministers said in a statement that Monday’s decision: “will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Two EU diplomats said the staggered approach gives Turkey a chance to end what the EU says are “illegal” drilling activities before any measures enter into force.
If sanctions are imposed, the Turkish military and captains of the drillships are likely to be targeted with asset freezes and travel bans, the diplomats said.
In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying:
“We have repeatedly and strongly emphasised that in the Eastern Mediterranean, we will not cease to protect our rights stemming from international law and rights and interests of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [TRNC], despite all of the unintelligible steps of the European Union.
“The decisions taken today at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council meeting clearly demonstrate that our messages following Council meetings of July 15 and October 14, 2019, have completely fallen on deaf ears,” it said.
Cyprus Mail, Hurriyet