EU comes down hard on Turkey over illegal drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ

The European Union's Foreign Affairs Council has approved measures against Turkey in response to its plans for illegal hydrocarbons drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, confirming the 12 July decision of the Council's Permanent Representatives and the conclusions of the 20 June EU summit.

The measures include a freeze on 149mn euros of pre-accession aid to Turkey for 2019-2020.

EU foreign ministers noted Turkey's illegal drilling in Cyprus' EEZ and suspended talks on the EU-Turkey air transport agreement and other high-level EU-Turkey dialogues.

The Council approved the Commission's reduction of pre-accession aid to Turkey for 2020 and invited the European Investment Bank to re-examine its lending to Turkey especially as regards loans with state backing, a measure that would be perhaps the most painful for Ankara.

Even as EU foreign ministers were issuing their conclusions, it was announced that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will on 29 July visit Nicosia for talks with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades. The first foreign trip of any newly-elected Greek PM is to Cyprus.

The conclusions stated that the Council continues to closely monitor the situation in accord with the 20 June, 2019, EU summit conclusions and called upon foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to continue reviewing targeted measures in view of Turkey's continued drilling endeavours in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The 28 foreign ministers express their regret that despite the numerous calls of the EU on Turkey to cease its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Ankara has continued drilling west of Cyprus and has begun a second drilling operation off the northeastern coast of the island (off the Turkish-occupied...

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