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Cyprus eyes outcome of EU Council meeting to counter Turkey’s EEZ violations

Prodromos Prodromou

The government is waiting for the outcome later in the week of the European Council which is expected to also discuss Turkey’s violations in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ), spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Tuesday.

Speaking to members of the press, the government spokesman said that Monday’s decision by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on taking restrictive measures against persons and companies involved in Turkish drilling activities off Cyprus, was an “important” one.

The European Council, which consists of the EU’s 28 leaders, is expected to ratify the foreign ministers’ decision this week.

Although no official announcements were made, it was widely reported that these measures concern freezing of the assets of companies and individuals involved in Turkish drilling activities off Cyprus but also barring them from entering EU counties.

“The goal is for our partners, which have unanimously expressed their solidarity, to work to deter these destabilising moves that Turkey continues to make,” Prodromou said.

He added that the government now expects the outcome of the forthcoming European Council, set to take place on Thursday and Friday.

Following a request by President Nicos Anastasiades, he said, the issue of the Turkish violations in the Cypriot EEZ has been put on the agenda of the European Council’s biannual meeting.

“The issue has been put up for discussion and we will have the final decisions,” Prodromou said.

He added that the “crisis and the very heartbreaking situation in Syria is certainly a concern for us, as it is for the whole international community, and it will also be a matter for discussion at the European Council.”

He refrained from commenting on the backlash against Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the north and Turkey following a comment last Saturday likening the Turkish invasion in northern Syria with the one in Cyprus in 1974 arguing that in both ‘peace’ operations, blood was shed.

“I do not think it would be useful to make any comments,” he said.

He said that Anastasiades was “always willing and prepared” and is waiting for the decision of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as to the next steps on the Cyprus problem.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Monday welcomed the agreement by the Foreign Affairs Council for ‘restrictive measures’ targeting those involved in Turkey’s hydrocarbon drilling activity off Cyprus after EU foreign ministers agreed to draw up a list of economic sanctions against Turkish oil and gas drilling activities in waters off Cyprus.

The council said they agreed that a framework regime of restrictive measures targeting natural and legal persons responsible for or involved in the illegal drilling activity of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean is put in place. It invited High Representative Federica Mogherini and the EU Commission to swiftly present proposals to this effect.

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