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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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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com