Wednesday, 17 July, 2019

European Union warns Turkey of sanctions over Mediterranean drilling

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defends Turkey's activities and has lashed out at outside actors for what he called interference Turkey rejects claims it is drilling illegally for gas off Cyprus
Patty Aguilar | 13 July, 2019, 14:54

The discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a dispute between European Union member Cyprus and Turkey, which last month sent a second ship, the Yavuz, to search for oil and gas in the region.

The only reference in the draft to the possibility of specific sanctions is in the final paragraph, which states that Council calls on the European Commission to continue working on possible restrictive measures against Turkey if it continues drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, soft-pedaling again what to do.

Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz sets sail in Izmit Bay, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, off the port of Dilovasi, Turkey, June 20, 2019.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has repeatedly warned global oil companies commissioned by the Greek Cypriot government not to participate in the search for underwater deposits. The ship dropped anchor off the island's north-eastern Karpas peninsula on Monday.

Israel expressed its "full support and solidarity" with Cyprus on Wednesday in the wake of Turkish natural gas drilling operations off the coast of Cyprus, which Nicosia claims violate its sovereignty.

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Restrictive measures will continue should Turkey continue illegal drilling, however the European Union bloc needs Turkey in matters such as security and migration and there are member states that also rely on Turkey for energy transit.

Ankara insists it is acting within its own continental shelf or in territorial waters where Turkish Cypriots would also be entitled to an equal share of any finds.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.

The incident had been reported in the Turkish Cypriot media earlier this week and was also raised by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci during a meeting with United Nations special envoy Elizabeth Spehar on Wednesday.

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