Turkey slams EU sanctions over E.Mediterranean drilling

EU attempt to impose sanctions is unlawful, biased, and invalid, and will in no way deter Turkey, says Foreign Ministry

Havva Kara Aydın   | 28.02.2020
Turkey slams EU sanctions over E.Mediterranean drilling


Turkey on Friday slammed the EU for moving to slap sanctions on two Turkish oil executives over Turkey’s legitimate energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, calling the EU action “unlawful” and invalid.

“The European Union’s (EU) adoption of the sanction list against Turkey on 27 February which includes the names of two Turkish Petroleum officials is a new example of its biased and unlawful attitude under the pretext of union solidarity,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.

The sanction “has no value for us and it is null and void,” as it violates both international law and the EU acquis, it added.

The EU’s attempt to dictate the Greek-Greek Cypriot maximalist maritime jurisdiction claims is futile, said the ministry, adding: “The EU cannot act as an international court. It cannot portray un-delimited and disputed maritime jurisdiction areas as final maritime boundaries.”

“It is most unfortunate to see that the EU still keeps ignoring the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots,” said the statement.

“The EU should have rather supported dialogue and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The sanctions “will not affect Turkey’s determination to protect its own rights and that of Turkish Cypriots’ in the Eastern Mediterranean. On the contrary, it will further strengthen our resolve,” said the ministry.

Turkey’s rights in Eastern Mediterranean

Starting last May, Turkish-flagged drill ships began offshore drilling operations in areas off the coast of Cyprus. The areas fall entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the UN and in permit licenses the Turkish government in previous years granted to Turkish Petroleum, the country's national oil company.

Turkey wants to see energy as an incentive for political resolution on the island and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin, not a catalyst for further tensions.

In January, the Greek Cypriot administration issued arrest warrants for crew members of the ships and officials of companies cooperating with Turkish Petroleum.

Last November, Ankara and the Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a pact on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The pact asserted Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

It further underlined that Ankara had a say in projects that involve it as it has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean and that it is prepared to cooperate with all countries in the region except the Greek Cypriot administration.

Turkey is a guarantor nation for the TRNC and has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.

In 1974, following a coup aimed at the annexation of Cyprus by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece and the U.K. – came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.

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