Report: EU to hit Turkey with sanctions over Cyprus drilling?

The European Union is reportedly preparing to hit Turkey with sanctions over the country’s drilling operations in the contested waters offshore Cyprus.

The Yavuz Drillship / Image by the Turkish Energy Ministry

Reuters on Thursday reported it had seen a draft of what would be the EU sanctions “set to curb contacts and funding for Ankara,” in response to the recent deployment of two drillships – Fatih and Yavuz – offshore Cyprus.

Tweeting on Friday, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council said: “Despite our best intentions to keep good neighborly relations with Turkey, its continued escalation and challenge to the sovereignty of our Member State Cyprus will inevitably lead the EU to respond in full solidarity as agreed by .”

While the EU and Cyprus have labeled Turkish drilling endeavors offshore Cyprus illegal, Turkey has said its drillships have been deployed within areas granted to it by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a self-declared state run by Turkish Cypriots and recognized only by Turkey.

Turkey also claims to be protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots, blaming official Cyprus of only working in the interest of the Greek side, when it comes to the country’s hydrocarbon resources. Turkey has also claimed its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean region were based on its legitimate rights stemming from international law.

Data generated by MarineTraffic showing two drillships deployed in areas claimed by Cyprus

Following the recent deployment of the Fatih drillship to the waters west of the Cyprus coast, Turkey has earlier this week deployed its second drillship, the Yavuz, to the east coast of the island.

Also worth noting, it is not only the EU and Cyprus that are objecting the Turkish actions. The U.S. state department earlier this week said it was “deeply concerned” with Turkish actions.

The statement reads: “The United States remains deeply concerned by Turkey’s repeated attempts to conduct drilling operations in the waters off Cyprus and its most recent dispatch of the drillship Yavuz off the Karpas Peninsula. This provocative step raises tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region.”

“Energy resource development in the Eastern Mediterranean should foster cooperation, increase dialogue between the two communities and among regional neighbors, and provide a foundation for durable energy security and economic prosperity. We continue to believe the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement,” the state department said.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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