EU imposes sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling

                          

The European Union has agreed to impose punitive measures against Turkey over its drilling operations off the coast of Cyprus, in a move censured by Ankara as “biased.”

The EU on Monday deplored Turkey’s continued and “illegal” drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean despite the bloc’s repeated warnings.

The measure would see the 28-nation bloc suspend both high-level dialog with Turkey and talks over an aviation accord dubbed the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement.

EU foreign ministers said that the bloc would reduce the 145.8 million euros ($164 million) in pre-accession assistance allocated to Turkey for next year, calling on the European Investment Bank to review the conditions set out for providing financial support to Ankara.

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The bloc also asked the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, to continue work on possible measures targeting those involved in the drilling activities.

Last month, Greece and Cyprus called on the European Union to take punitive measures against Turkey after Ankara announced it would expand exploration for potentially lucrative gas resources in the region.

Turkey sent two ships to carry out drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus.

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Ankara slammed the measures on Monday, saying the bloc’s failure to mention Turkish Cypriots in its decisions “showed how biased and partisan the EU is on the subject of Cyprus.”

“The decisions will not affect in the slightest our country’s determination to continue hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The island has been divided into Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories since a brief war in 1974, which saw Turkey intervene militarily in response to a military coup on the island that was backed by the Athens government to annex Cyprus to Greece.

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Greek Cypriots run the island’s internationally recognized government, while Turkish Cypriots have a breakaway state in the north — only recognized by Turkey.

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Greek Cyprus, has vowed to prevent what it sees as a unilateral move by Greek Cypriots to claim offshore resources. It says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under what Ankara calls the territory of the Turkish Cyprus.

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