Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

EU threatens Turkey with sanctions over Cyprus drilling - draft

EU threatens Turkey with sanctions over Cyprus drilling - draft

Turkey and Cyprus are at loggerheads over offshore fuel reserves within the eastern Mediterranean which can be claimed by the Cypriots and disputed by Ankara.

"We reject the statements by the Greek Foreign Ministry and European Union officials which describe these activities of our country as illegitimate", the Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

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).

The EU Commission put forward options on measures against Turkish activities in the Eastern Mediterranean to the EU Council, according to an EU official on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the US government on Monday expressed concern over Turkey's drill activities in the Mediterranean Sea, calling on the Turkish government to halt the activities. "The EU should act on principles instead of taking the Greek Cypriot side", he said.

But that's been seen as trying to have it both ways, to push Erdogan toward stopping the drilling in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where the legitimate government has licensed foreign companies to drill, with American energy giant ExxonMobil already reporting a major gas find.

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.

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. Its determination to press ahead with drilling follows Nicosia's decision to take legal action, with arrest warrants issued for the crew of Fatih.

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

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