European Union leaders agreed on the first steps towards more comprehensive sanctions against Turkey over Ankara’s unauthorized gas drilling off the coast of Greece and Cyprus, according to a decision released early Friday morning on the sidelines of the leaders’ summit in Brussels, reports Deutasche Welle.
In August, Turkey sent a gas exploration ship to survey the seabed in waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece, triggering a diplomatic row with the EU. Since then, Brussels has been weighing its options for pressuring Turkey to cease gas exploration in the region.
The decision paves the way for penalizing individuals and companies involved in planning and carrying out the gas exploration with travel bans into the EU and asset freezes.
The vice-president of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation and the deputy director of its exploration department are currently on an EU sanctions list. The new sanctions would add as yet unspecified people and organizations to that list.
“Regrettably, Turkey has engaged in unilateral actions and provocations and escalated its rhetoric against the EU, EU member states and European leaders,” read a statement from the summit in Brussels.
However, Friday’s proposal steps back from an arms embargo, or wider sanctions that would target larger sectors of Turkey’s economy, both of which had been under consideration.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday saying the EU’s approach was “biased and illegal.”
Photo by AFP