News Local EU set to toughen sanctions on Turkish illegal drilling in Mediterranean waters

EU set to toughen sanctions on Turkish illegal drilling in Mediterranean waters

The European Union on Thursday will impose sanctions on more Turkish individuals and companies responsible for illegal drilling in Mediterranean waters within the exclusive economic zones of Cyprus and Greece.

The additional sanctions will be agreed at the EU leaders summit in Brussels on the basis of a sanctions list already in place since 2019.

However, these sanctions are believed to be among the more conservative measures available to EU leaders who vowed in October to use “all instruments” to pressure Turkey to stop exploring for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus and Greece.

A draft statement released on Wednesday evening said under the “Eastern Mediterranean” chapter:

1. The European Council reverted to its Conclusions of 1-2 October on the European Union’s relations with Turkey in light of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Regrettably, Turkey has engaged in unilateral actions and provocations and escalated its rhetoric against the EU, EU Member States and European leaders.

Turkish unilateral and provocative activities in the Eastern Mediterranean are still taking place, including in Cyprus`s exclusive economic zone. The European Council noted Turkey`s withdrawal of the vessel Oruc Reis and trusts that this will be sustained so as to allow for the early resumption of direct exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey.

2. The European Council reaffirmed that the EU has a strategic interest in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. The offer for a positive EU-Turkey agenda remains on the table, should Turkey wish to promote a genuine partnership with the Union and its Member States and resolve differences through dialogue and in accordance with international law.

The proposed specific emphasis of such a positive EU-Turkey agenda is on the areas of the economy and trade, people to people contacts, high level dialogues and continued cooperation on migration issues. The EU is also willing to continue providing financial assistance to supporting hosting Syrian refugees in Turkey.

3. In parallel, however, the EU remains committed to defending its interests and those of its Member States as well as to upholding regional stability. In this respect, the European Council:
* invites the Council to prepare additional listings based on its Decision (CFSP) 2019/1894 and, if need be, work on the extension of the Decision`s scope;
* invites the High Representative and the Commission, to report on the state of play of EU-Turkey political and economic relations, and on options how to proceed for consideration at the March 2021 European Council;
* the EU will seek to coordinate on these matters with the US.

4. The European Council condemned Turkish unilateral steps in Varosha, called for full respect of UN Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789 and reiterated its full commitment and support to a comprehensive settlement within the UN framework.

5. With regard to regional issues, in particular Libya, the European Council called on all actors to act in accordance with the principles of the Berlin process. The European Union recalls the offer to support the Libyan Coast Guard through training and monitoring as well as the provision of equipment and vessels, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.

6. The European Council asked the High Representative to pursue preparations of the multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean.





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