The European Union’s foreign ministers decided Monday to impose sanctions on Turkey over its illegal drilling activities within the territorial waters of member state Cyprus.
According to reports, the EU postponed the announcement of the sanctions for a few hours at the request of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu so as not to spoil the third anniversary of the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The decision to impose sanctions was lauded by new Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who attended his first meeting of EU foreign ministers Monday in Brussels.
“I was positively impressed by the unanimous decision by all my colleagues on the issue of Turkey’s provocations regarding Cyprus’ sovereign rights,” Dendias said. He added that the EU’s position is a reminder to Turkey of the consequences that may result if its behavior goes against international law.
The sanctions decided by the EU foreign ministers include, as was expected, a freeze of pre-accession assistance to the tune of 146 million euros, the suspension of negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and a halting of high-level dialogues in the fields of economy, energy, transport and agriculture – as well as the suspension of lending activities of the European Investment Bank.
EU foreign ministers also warned that they will prepare measures targeting individuals and companies involved in Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
However, this warning, which was issued at the recent EU leaders’ summit, has yet to materialize because several EU members want to pursue a more cautious stance with regard to Turkey given its efforts to stem migrant flows into Europe.