Sunday, 20 October, 2019

EU signals sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling - draft

Turkey rejects claims it is drilling illegally for gas off Cyprus EU threatens Turkey with sanctions over Cyprus drilling: draft
Deanna Wagner | 13 July, 2019, 14:54

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. It triggered a strong protest from Nicosia and a rebuke from the European Union.

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. It also calls for a reduction of pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and for the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey.

"The drilling activities of our ship Yavuz are based on legal and legitimate grounds", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that "We reject the statement made by Greek Foreign Ministry and European Union officials that deem our country's activities illegal".

Turkish Cypriot reports said water bottles were thrown at the bus and damage was done to its side-mirrors by angry Greek Cypriots but who they were was not immediately confirmed.

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In May, Ankara sent the ship Fatih into Cyprus' exclusive economic zone to begin drilling there, while the Yavuz was deployed last month to search for oil and gas to the east. The move allows residents of the internationally recognised south and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to use their mobile phones on both sides of the Mediterranean island.

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

Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar made the announcement to the reporters following a meeting with President Mustafa Akıncı on July 11, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said, citing Turkish Agency Cyprus (TAK).

Brussels also voiced "grave concern" over Turkey's declared intention "to illegally conduct" a new drilling operation off the island.