The European Union on Thursday imposed sanctions on two individuals over their role in Turkey drilling for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus, subjecting them to travel bans to the bloc and asset freezes.
The European Council did not name them. The move followed November’s decision to impose economic sanctions.
“These persons are responsible for or involved in planning, directing and implementing offshore hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean which have not been authorized by the Republic of Cyprus,” it said in a statement.
Cyprus’ internationally recognized government discovered offshore gas in 2011 but has been at loggerheads with Turkey over maritime zones around the island, where it has granted licenses to multinational companies for oil and gas research.
Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus’s government, says it is operating in waters on its own continental shelf or areas where Turkish Cypriots have rights.
Ankara has for years sought to join the European Union, the world’s biggest trading bloc, but has run into opposition from some EU countries. [Reuters]