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EU Council authorises sanctions targeting Turkish oil and gas sector
The European Union (EU) has ramped up pressure on Turkey to stop exploratory oil and gas drilling in Mediterranean waters that EU member state Cyprus claims is within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), reports Keith Nuthall. Turkey's state-owned oil company TPAO (Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı) has sent its drillship Yavuz south of Cyprus, notably testing areas close to Israel’s EEZ that are thought may hold major gas deposits.
The diplomatic situation is complicated by the fact that Turkey does not recognise the (Greek) Republic of Cyprus, only the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey also has an unusual interpretation of maritime law regarding islands, arguing apart from a small 12-mile littoral EEZ, rights to maritime waters should be controlled by continental countries. This reflects Turkish disputes with Greece over the EEZs of Aegean Sea islands.
Regardless, the EU is backing Cyprus. The EU Council of Ministers has authorised a regulation detailing sanctions that can be imposed on Turkish individuals or companies, on a proposal from a member state (ie Cyprus or Greece) or the EU high representative for foreign affairs.
The sanctions could include a travel ban to the EU, asset freezes, and bans on EU persons and entities providing funds to sanctioned companies or individuals involved in drilling within the Cyprus EEZ. Sanctions could also be imposed on persons or entities providing financial, technical or material support for this work and known associates.