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EU Slaps Sanctions On Turkey For Illegal Offshore Drilling

A surprisingly muscular response beyond mere threatening rhetoric out of the European Union over Turkey's violations of Cypriot territorial waters related to offshore drilling operationsthe EU has agreed to bring financial and political sanctions against Turkey after repeat warnings of the past weeks. 

European Union officials on Monday agreed political and financial sanctions against Turkey after Ankara went ahead with drilling operations off Cyprus despite repeated warnings, European diplomats said. — AFP

"The conclusions on Turkey have been adopted and they will be made public in the coming hours," the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters following a meeting of foreign ministers. 

AP photo: July 9, 2019 file photo, a Turkish Navy warship patrols near Turkey's drilling ship ' Fatih ' that is making its way towards the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus.

Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg also announced prior to Mogherini's remarks Monday from Brussels:

"Today, we will adopt a number of measures against Turkey — less money, fewer loans through the European Investment Bank, freeze of aviation agreement talks. Naturally, other sanctions are possible."

Related: IEA: Huge Oil Glut Coming In 2020

"We [the] are fully behind Cyprus," Schallenberg added while addressing the crisis, which has involved Turkey laying claim to a waters extending a whopping 200 miles from EU member Cyrprus' coast, brazenly asserting ownership over a swathe of the Mediterranean that even cuts into Greece's exclusive economic zone.

Last week the Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz sailed to an area off Cyprus’ east coast — the second to follow a first drilling vessel, Fatih, which had already been exploring in Cypriot waters. Notably, the vessels have been accompanied by the Turkish military, including drones, F-16 fighters, and warships.

Cyprus has long condemned Turkey's aggressive oil and gas explorations as a "second invasion" in reference to the creation in 1974 of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus after a military takeover. 

Source: Stratfor

The AFP reports the following after the EU ministers' meeting and announcement of impending sanctions

The details are not due to be published until 10:00 pm (2000 GMT), but the most serious measure is understood to be a cut of 145.8 million euros ($164 million) in the European funds allocated to Turkey for 2020.

The European Investment Bank has been asked to revisit the conditions set out for providing financial support to Ankara, according to several European sources.

The EU is also expected to downgrade its dialogue with Turkey, without cutting it off completely.

Turkey's actions and expansive claims inside Cyprus' exclusive economic zone have been condemned by the US, European Union, and Egypt, with NATO officials recently signaling to Turkey that it was out of line. 

Ankara has not only confirmed the drilling operations but has positively boasted about its oil and gas expansion in the eastern Mediterranean. The only compromise it's offered, even while sending warships and military planes to "protect" its drilling vessels, has been to offer dialogue over a "cooperation" proposal between the Turkish-held part of the island and internationally recognized Cyprus. 

Should the Turkish military attempt to enforce its drilling claims and run up against Cypriot and Greek vessels, it could spark a deadly encounter which would force the EU and NATO to finally weigh in more forcefully. 

By Zerohedge.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 16 2019 said:
    Turkey will ignore the political and financial sanctions imposed on it by the European Union (EU) for violating what the EU describes as Cypriot territorial waters as toothless. Turkey has before defied US pressure and the threat of US sanctions against it and has continued to buy Iranian crude oil.

    Last week Turkey sent the Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz to an area off Cyprus’ east coast — the second to follow a first drilling vessel, Fatih, which had already been exploring in Cypriot waters. Notably, the vessels have been escorted by Turkish warships and protected by the Turkish Air Force. Ankara has not only confirmed the drilling operations but has positively boasted about its oil and gas expansion in the eastern Mediterranean.

    Turkey made it clear that it has three objectives in the eastern Mediterranean. One is to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots get their rightful share of the natural gas wealth. Another is to ensure Turkey’s position as the energy hub of the EU. And the third is to force the Greek Cypriots to accept a settlement in a disputed maritime area overlapping Turkey’s and their free maritime economic zones.

    In support of its objectives, Turkey dispatched exploration ships escorted by warships to explore for gas in the disputed area and threatened foreign oil companies’ vessels exploring for gas and oil on behalf of Cyprus including ExxonMobil’s.

    Another crisis between Turkey and the United States is brewing over Turkey’s purchase of the a Russian state-of-the-art S-400 missile system with the US threatening economic and military sanctions against Turkey.

    However, the crisis between the United States and Turkey goes far beyond the Russian missile system. Turkey particularly under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers itself a major regional power in the Middle East and demands to be respected accordingly. It will never kowtow to the United States or succumb to pressure from President Trump when it comes to its national security, energy access in the eastern Mediterranean, its defying of US sanctions on Iran, its objection to the presence of US-supported Kurdish militants on its border with Syria and US threats to force Turkey to abandon the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system.

    President Erdogan knows full well that the United States can never risk kicking Turkey from NATO because Turkey has the second largest Army in the organization and in so doing it will seriously diminish the effectiveness of NATO at a time of rising tension with both Russia and China. Another reason is that such an action will push Turkey further to the welcoming arms of Russia and China.

    Still, it seems that President Erdogan is determined to challenge the United States particularly after it has agreed to the so-called East Med Act, which will allow the US to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece and Cyprus. To emphasize his defiance, he may even call the bluff of his adversaries.

    He certainly has a strong hand to play with his control over the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus and Dardanelles) and also in Syria. The former is a major potential chokepoint for petroleum liquids transit from the Caspian Sea region.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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