News Local After heated debate, EU postpones harsher steps against Turkey over illegal gas...

After heated debate, EU postpones harsher steps against Turkey over illegal gas drilling

European Union leaders agreed late on Thursday to prepare limited sanctions on Turkish individuals over an energy exploration dispute with Greece and Cyprus, postponing any harsher steps until March as countries sparred over how to handle Ankara.

Shying away from a threat made in October to consider wider economic measures, EU leaders agreed a summit statement that paves the way to punish individuals accused of planning or taking part in unauthorised drilling off Cyprus.

The steps did not go far enough for either Greece or Cyprus, with the two countries expressing frustration that the EU was hesitant to target Turkey’s economy over the hydrocarbons dispute, as Germany, Italy and Spain pushed to give diplomacy more time.

In contrast, the United States is poised to impose sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition last year of Russian S-400 air defence systems, five sources including two U.S. officials told Reuters.

France, angered by Turkish foreign policy in Syria and Libya, has sought to push the EU to consider sectorial sanctions on Turkey’s economy, but did not have wide support.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he was not concerned by any sanctions the bloc might impose.

The EU asset freezes of as-yet unnamed individuals and companies will be in addition to two officials already on a sanctions list set up in November 2019.

“It is very clear what is at stake here: the credibility of the European Union,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a video message before the summit discussion, which one diplomat described as a “heated debate”.

Underscoring the sensitivities of penalising NATO member Turkey, which is also an EU candidate country, another diplomat said there were largely fruitless “long discussions about words” in the final text, which accused Turkey of “provocations”.

EU leaders now expect the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, to come forward by March with a broad overview of the bloc’s political, trade and economic relations with Turkey.

That could allow for the EU to either broaden sanctions or offer closer trade ties via an expanded customs union, depending on Ankara’s willingness to help end tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, avoiding further measures, diplomats said.

Top Stories

Three covid deaths in Cyprus, new cases drop further to 157 but fewer tests

  Cyprus recorded three covid deaths over the past 24 hours, raising the number to 170,  113 men and 57 women, with an average age...

Thousands protest in Amsterdam against Dutch coronavirus lockdown

  Several thousand today people held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being...

Search and rescue crews looking for woman off Larnaca

  The Search and Rescue Coordination Centre in Larnaca received a call around four in the afternoon about a 70 year old woman missing off...

Rapid Test locations on Monday Jan 18

Here are the rapid test locations for Monday January 18 Limassol Apostolos Loukas church, Ayios Athanasios (Ayios Athanasios refugee settlement) 8.30-4.30 Ayios Stylianos church, Linopetra 8.30-4.30 Mesa Yeitonia Cultural Centre...

German FM says COVID curbs should be eased for vaccinated people

  People who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should be allowed to go to restaurants and cinemas earlier than others, a German minister said, contradicting...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...