The EU threatened Turkey with sanctions if the country continues to illegally drill oil and gas from the seas off the coast of the EU member state Cyprus. After Turkey had sent a new ship to look for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus, the EU rebuked Ankara’s activity again. “What Turkey is doing in the territorial waters of Cyprus is totally unacceptable,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and added that “the commission has been charged to propose measures to be taken as soon as possible when it comes to this conflict and we’ll do so, and these will not be soft measures.”
Turkey has not yet responded to the EU’s calls to cease such activities. The discovery of underwater gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean has started a race between both countries, triggering a dispute over exploratory activities in the area. Turkey claims its actions abide by international law as the area belongs to the country’s continental shelf. However, Turkey is not under legal obligation by the Law of the Sea.
“The EU will continue to closely monitor developments and stands ready to respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” the European Council concluded. Accordingly, the EU started drafting “targeted measures” against Turkey. The bloc’s needs to take an action as the sovereignty of an EU member state is being violated. However, while France and Italy fully support the statement on Cyprus, Germany and the Netherlands had few concerns over the wording. Cypriot government aims at finding a dialogue to resolve the situation, expressing satisfaction about the EU’s support.