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Turkey Won’t Back Down From Cyprus Oil Drilling Despite EU Sanctions

The Turkish Foreign Affair Ministry on Tuesday rejected the notion of European Union sanctions on Turkey over its drilling for gas in disputed eastern Mediterranean waters, pledging instead to send yet another ship to the area.

During their meeting in Brussels on Monday, European Union foreign ministers approved a new batch of sanctions against Turkey. In their statement, they said that in light of Turkey's “continued and new illegal drilling activities,” the EU was suspending talks on an air transport agreement and would call on the European Investment Bank to “review” its lending to the country. Meanwhile, ministers of the EU members backed a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to Turkey for the next year. 

The EU decision was followed by a swift response from Turkey. "Our country will continue to protect both its own rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots with determination, and will further boost its activities to this end," the Foreign Affair ministry said in a statement, accusing the EU for their bias in this case.  

Old tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and the EU member state Cyprus about jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas deposits intensified after Turkey’s decision to send a second drilling ship into disputed waters off the coast of Cyprus.  

"The legitimate rights of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus over the energy resources of the Eastern Mediterranean are not debatable," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Cypriot government says it will take legal action against any oil and gas companies supporting Turkish vessels in further attempts to drill for gas. Cyprus has already issued around 20 international arrest warrants against three international companies that is assisting one of the two Turkish vessels now drilling 42 miles off the island’s west coast.

New Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias lauded the EU’s decision to impose sanctions. "I was positively impressed by the unanimous decision by all my colleagues on the issue of Turkey’s provocations regarding Cyprus’ sovereign rights,” Dendias said.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Thomas Henriksen on July 17 2019 said:
    Eventually gradually economic sanctions from The European Economic Area (EEA) included USA.
    EEA is buy far more economically powerful than USA, tough slower to react.
    (A Controversial NATO Member with quite similar dictator regime as Russia and Belarus, purchasing Russian military equipment instead of supporting the other NATO member countries. I say they will be kicked out.)
  • smith antony on July 17 2019 said:
    turkey will get NOTHING greek cyprus now has power to talk forget 1974
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 16 2019 said:
    Turkey made it clear that it will never compromise on its objectives in the eastern Mediterranean, namely, to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots get their rightful share of the natural gas wealth, to consolidate its position as the energy hub of the EU and to force the Greek Cypriots to accept a settlement in a disputed maritime area overlapping their free maritime economic zone and Turkey's.

    The European Union sanctions which Turkey consider toothless will not deter Turkey from continuing to drill for gas and oil in the disputed area. On the contrary, Turkey said it will be sending another exploration ship to the area.

    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.

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

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