EU agrees sanctions framework for Turkey Cyprus drilling
AFP, , Monday 14 Oct 2019


The EU on Monday opened the way to sanctions over Turkey's controversial drilling for hydrocarbons off Cyprus, approving a legal framework to target those involved.

The discovery of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked the dispute between EU member Cyprus and Turkey, which occupies the north of the island.

The EU has repeatedly warned Turkey to stop exploratory drilling activities in what Cyprus says are its territorial waters, to no avail.

Now the bloc has agreed to set up the framework needed to impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies involved in the operations.

"In light of Turkey's continued illegal drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, the Council reaffirms its full solidarity with Cyprus," the EU Council said in a statement.

"The Council... agrees that a framework regime of restrictive measures targeting natural and legal persons responsible for or involved in the illegal drilling activity of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean is put in place."

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides welcomed the move.

"It sends a clear message to Turkey that its actions are condemnable, but at the same time it is also a message to all those involved in these illegal actions that their actions have consequences," Christodoulides said in a statement.

He said it "strengthens our efforts to prevent and put an end to Turkey's illegal activities".

The action over the drilling came alongside another EU statement condemning Turkey's military operation in northern Syria.

EU ministers agreed that they would apply the bloc's rules on arms sales more strictly, but stopped short of a formal embargo.

They agreed that EU countries should pay close regard to their existing common policy on arms exports, which includes a provision that they should not be approved where there they may "contribute to regional instability".

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