The European Union on Monday adopted a framework authorizing sanctions relating to Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The EU framework “will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in” drilling for oil in the sea off the coast of Cyprus, diplomats said in a statement. They didn’t immediately designate anyone under the framework, but sanctioned individuals will be hit with a travel ban and an asset freeze, and the EU will freeze the assets of sanctioned entities. EU companies and people are also barred from providing funds to those designated.
“I am satisfied with the decision of the EU, which is actively supporting the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and legality in Cyprus’ sea,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The announcement Monday follows earlier condemnations in October and July of this year by EU diplomats over Turkey’s drilling activities off Cyprus. Turkey has long argued its “sovereign right” to drill in the waters. Relations between the EU and Turkey have declined recently, including due to an ongoing incursion by Ankara into northeastern Syria.
Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), the country’s national oil firm, awarded a $15 million services contract in October 2018 to a U.S. firm to drill a deepwater well in the Eastern Mediterranean, and to provide management services on the Fatih, a TPAO ultra-deepwater drillship, Kharon reported last month.