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Cyprus

List of those facing EU action over Turkish drilling ready

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Nicosia has already prepared the list of persons and companies subject to financial and legal measures by the EU over their involvement in Turkey’s illegal drillings in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Wednesday.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC radio Christodoulides said the list will be submitted to the competent working group of the EU following the decision earlier this week to impose restrictive measures against companies and individuals involved in Turkish drilling operations off Cyprus. Other countries can add names to the list too as long as they justify their involvement in these activities, he said.

“As soon as these names are added to the list, they will be made public and the targeted measures decided will be put in effect,” Christodoulides said.

The measures, agreed on Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, concern freezing of assets and barring entry to EU countries.

He would not say how long the list was or if this also concerned companies outside Turkey.

“All those involved, natural and legal persons along with very specific information, will be given by the Republic of Cyprus to the relevant EU working group,” he said.

Daily Politis reported on Wednesday that Nicosia’s list includes the CEO of state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), Melih Han Bilgin, and board members Alparslan Bayraktar, Edip Muyesseroglu and Mehmet Ferruh Akalin.

According to the daily it was initially discussed to also add government officials such as Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Energy Minister Fatih Donmez but the idea was abandoned after Nicosia concluded it would not find the necessary backing for such a move.

The intended measures will not concern companies that continue to cooperate with TPAO in drilling activities off Cyprus since the ones still working with the Turkish company are those facing bankruptcy due to the steep compensation they would have to pay in case they break their contracts with TPAO, Politis reported. Ninety per cent of the companies involved in these activities have already pulled out; it is only those facing steep fines that continue cooperating with TPAO, according to the daily.

The measures, however, will concern companies that will cooperate with TPAO in its activities in the Cypriot EEZ in the future, the paper reported.

The decision by the EU foreign ministers on the measures will be formally approved by the bloc’s leaders at the European Council set to take place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

Christodoulides refuted claims the foreign ministers’ decision was affected by the situation in Syria.

“The decisions on the Syria issue had been taken previously,” he said.

He added that unless Turkey ends her illegal activities, the issue will not end with the latest decision.

After the political decision, he said, the EU will launch legal procedures for the enforcement of these sanctions since interested parties might seek recourse at the European Court of Justice.

Christodoulides said the government welcomes the development but does not hold any celebrations over it.

“We carry on with our effort with diplomatic, political, legal means to tackle this state of affairs,” he said.

He also said that the EU has for the first time decided targeted measures against a candidate state and a Nato member, either due to Syria or the illegal actions within the Cypriot EEZ.

As regards the Cyprus problem, the minister said he welcomes Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s critical position on Turkey’s operation in southern Syria but would not comment further fearing his words being used by third parties against Akinci.

He added that the intention remains for a trilateral meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades, Akinci and the UN secretary-general for the last week of November.

“There has been no change to that,” he said.

 

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