Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

EU to cut assistance to Turkey over activities in Cyprus EEZ (updated)

Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz

The EU will cut its pre-accession assistance to Turkey by €145.8m next year, it emerged on Tuesday when the first indications of EU sanctions against Turkey over its activities in Cyprus’ EEZ were revealed.

Also among the targeted measures is the re-evaluation of the European Investment Bank’s activities in Turkey, as well as a suspension of meetings between top EU officials and Turkey, a well-informed source told Brussels media outlets.

It is also expected that the European Commission will declare its readiness to impose targeted measures against companies and persons related to Turkey’s drilling activities should member-states deem such action necessary, the source added.

The full list of measures agreed by the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) will be presented to EU member-states representatives on Wednesday.

The final decisions regarding which measures will be taken and which not will be made by EU foreign ministers next week.

On Monday the EU said Turkey’s plans to launch a second drill off Cyprus was as grave concern and an unacceptable escalation which violated the sovereignty of Cyprus.

Commission vice president Frederica Mogherini called on Ankara to refrain from such actions in a spirit of good neighbourliness and respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in accordance with international law.

The Turkish Cypriot ‘Foreign Ministry’ on Tuesday described the EU’s approach as one of a courtroom which is acting in clear violation of international law.

Both international law and the law of the sea dictate that conflicting parties must deliberate and reach a solution as soon as possible, it said, though so far approaches to the issue have given an advantage to the one party contrary to the principle of impartiality.

All who have issued announcements for the issue of natural gas drilling off Cyprus shores have purposefully ignored the permits granted by the Turkish Cypriot government, as well as the fact that this government is recognised by Turkey, Turkish Cypriot ‘ministry’ said.

These announcements speak of the sovereign rights of Greek Cypriots to natural resources, but the rights of Turkish Cypriots are ignored by the same sources, the announcement added.

Russia, the UK, France and Egypt on Tuesday called on Turkey to avoid illegal activities in Cyprus’ EEZ, after a second Turkish drillship arrived off the island’s northeastern coast on Monday.

The drillship Yavuz is expected to begin drilling for oil and natural gas near Cyprus this week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its concern for the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and specifically for the violations of the Cyprus EEZ.

Moscow called on Turkey to show restraint, and underlined that these activities do not contribute to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

London highlighted that it treats as a priority the de-escalation of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, which it said must be solved through dialogue.

De-escalation “is crucial for the stability of the Mediterranean and for the cohesion of the international system, which is based on rules, whereby conflicts such as these are solved not through an imposition of power, militarisation, or coercion, but through dialogue,” a representative of the British high commissioner in Cyprus said.

The representative added that the UK continues to recognise the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the energy resources in its EEZ.

The French foreign ministry reasserted its “firm commitment to respect the law of the sea and its solidarity with Cyprus, whose sovereignty must be respected, as the High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, has recently reaffirmed.”

It called on Turkey “to avoid any action that would be against the law and endanger regional stability.”

In the same vein, an announcement by the Egyptian foreign ministry said “the Turkish stance indicates Ankara’s commitment to continue its unilateral measures which will escalate the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Egypt underlined it is necessary to avoid an escalation of the situation and to respect international law.

In early May Turkey sent its first drillship, the Fatih, to waters well inside Cyprus’ EEZ, at a location about 60km west of Paphos. Ankara said drilling has begun.

The government said last week it has initiated legal proceedings against three companies cooperating with the state-owned Turkish petroleum company TPAO for encroaching on the island’s continental shelf.

An official said that the government would do the same with the Yavuz.

Top Turkish officials however, have declared that Cyprus cannot stop them and will continue carrying out drillings in what they classify as their own continental shelf.

 


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