Saturday

2nd Jul 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us