EU poised to announce measures against Turkey over Cyprus drilling
The European Union is set to curb contacts and funding for Ankara in retaliation for what it calls Turkey's "illegal" drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus and stands ready to ramp up sanctions further, a draft statement seen by Reuters shows.
In trying to take Ankara to task over its interference in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone, the EU is walking a thin line, careful not to antagonise an important partner.
Cyprus' sigmalive.com reported today that Nicosia delayed approval of the joint statement until tomorrow in a bid to threaten Ankara with further "targeted measures", instead of "restrictive measures" as today's draft stated.
The statement is scheduled to be approved by EU foreign ministers on 15 July.
"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," Donald Tusk, president of the European Council of ministers, said.
Today national envoys in Brussels discussed a joint decision to punish Turkey, a draft of which said:
"In light of Turkey's continued and new illegal drilling activities, the (EU) decides to suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agrees not to hold further meetings of the high-level dialogues for the time being."
"The Council endorses the Commission's proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending," it said.
It added that the EU would be ready to introduce more restrictive measures against Turkey should Ankara continue drilling.
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