Published: Thu, July 18, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

European Union slaps sanctions on Turkey over its 'illegal' gas drilling off Cyprus

European Union slaps sanctions on Turkey over its 'illegal' gas drilling off Cyprus

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Turkey's foreign ministries said the European Union sanctions "will in no way affect Turkey's determination to continue its hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean". The Council endorses the Commission's proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending.

The dispute stems from overlapping claims to regional waters by Turkey and Cyprus linked to the split of the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

While negotiations to reunify the island have not restarted, Cyprus has moved to start gas and oil exploration by issuing licences.

"If you make such decisions regarding Turkey, we will step up our activities".

The Coordinating Committee of Justice for Cyprus (SEKA) organised a number of events to commemorate human rights violations following the illegal invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974. "Now there are three of our ships in the Eastern Mediterranean, and we will dispatch the fourth one", he stressed.

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The ministry accused the European Union of being "prejudiced and biased" over the lack of reference to Turkish Cypriots, "who have equal rights over the natural resources of the island". The worldwide community, however, does not recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, nor its claims to the regional waters around the island. Last week, diplomats began discussing what measures to impose.

The two countries do not enjoy good diplomatic relations, as they have not been in agreement concerning Northern Cyprus, which is recognized as a standalone country only by Turkey. "Let them understand that they can not deal with Turkey with such methods", he added.

"Turkey seems to be decisive about its political position in the Eastern Mediterranean and says that it will continue its activities in there like the other players in the region", Al Jazeera's Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said. A second drilling ship, Yavuz, arrived off the northeastern coast earlier this month.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, left, shakes hands with North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, right, prior to their meeting, in Skopje, North Macedonia, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. In addition, the European Union cuts almost 150m euros in European aid for Turkey in 2020.

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