Tuesday

17th Sep 2019

EU prepares 'targeted' sanctions on Turkey over gas drilling

  • Cyprus split in two in 1974 when the Turkish-backed TRNC broke away in response to a Greek coup on the island (Photo: michael kirian)

The EU is preparing to punish Turkey for gas drilling off Cyprus as Ankara sends a second ship into a disputed zone.

"We are in full solidarity with Cyprus. What Turkey is doing in the territorial waters of Cyprus is totally unacceptable," European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said after an EU summit on Thursday (20 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"The commission has been charged to propose measures to be taken as soon as possible on this conflict and it will do so and these will not be soft measures," he added.

EU leaders earlier the same day agreed a joint statement "strongly condemning Turkey's continued illegal actions".

Europe "deplores that Turkey has not yet responded to the EU's repeated calls to cease such activities", they added.

They also spoke of taking "targeted measures" that could cover the whole "range of EU-Turkey relations" if Ankara did not back down.

Options include visa bans and asset freezes on Turkish individuals and companies doing the drilling.

They also include freezing talks on an upgraded customs union or formally freezing talks on Turkey's EU accession, which were suspended in practice in 2016 due to an authoritarian crackdown.

The leaders spoke after Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades briefed EU Council president Donald Tusk on the situation and after Cyprus issued arrest warrants for the sailors on the Turkish ships.

Tusk said "The European Council stands ready to respond appropriately, and in full solidarity with Cyprus".

But the EU has to tread carefully despite its strident words because Turkey is helping Europe by stopping millions of Syrian refugees from going to Greece.

It also has to consider the geopolitical implications of its actions, as Turkey, a Nato ally, moves closer to Russia.

Turkey, the same day, sent a second ship, called the Yavuz into the disputed area to join the Fatih, which began drilling in recent days.

The waters belong to Cyprus' "exclusive economic zone" according to the EU and UN.

But they are de facto shared with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway entity that is recognised by Turkey only and which hosts thousands of Turkish troops.

Fatih Donmez, the Turkish energy minister, voiced defiance on Thursday.

"We will continue the drilling activities that derive from our own legitimate rights uninterrupted," he said

He accused Cyprus of "hiding behind the EU" and said Nicosia "cannot have any say on any issue that concerns the entire island".

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, also defended his decision to buy anti-aircraft systems from Russia instead of the US despite the threat of US sanctions if he did so.

"Imposition of sanctions remains a course of action and a very viable one at this point," Clarke Cooper, a US assistant secretary fo state, said on Thursday.

"I do not see any possibility of these sanctions happening," Erdogan said.

If the US went ahead, he would "immediately work the phones" with US president Donald Trump to stop them and might impose "sanctions of our own", he added.

EU discusses new sanctions on Turkey

EU diplomats have discussed which sanctions to slap on Turkey over gas drilling in Cypriot waters, amid Ankara's ongoing mockery of Europe.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

News in Brief

  1. Germany prepared to top up post-Brexit EU budget
  2. New Saudi attack threats, but EU and US still divided
  3. EU anti-trust chief goes after Belgian tax breaks
  4. Luxembourg PM Bettel humiliates Johnson
  5. No new backstop proposal at Juncker-Johnson lunch
  6. Saudi oil production in flames after drone attack
  7. US: attack on Saudi oil came from Iran or Iraq
  8. Poll: Belgium's far-right Vlaams Belang largest party

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin
  2. EU divided on how to protect rule of law
  3. Nordic region to become world's most sustainable and integrated
  4. In detail: Belgium's EU nominee faces crime probe
  5. France urges EU virtual currency rules amid Libra risk
  6. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  7. As recession looms, Europe needs more spending
  8. How should the EU handle Russia now?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us