The EU threatened Turkey with new sanctions over the exploration of gas fields near Cyprus

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that Turkey should refrain from provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean and begin negotiations with Greece and Cyprus to resolve the conflict over the delimitation of the sea shelf, RBC reports.

In September, the European Union may decide to impose new sanctions against Ankara, in the absence of progress in the negotiations, Borrell promised at a press conference following an informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Union countries in Berlin.

“Disappointment with Turkey's behavior is growing in the European Union, so the EU Council [...] asked the working groups to expedite work on introducing new sanctions against more individuals proposed by Cyprus due to illegal drilling (Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea – ed.),” he clarified.

The EU has previously imposed personal sanctions against individuals involved in Turkey's illegal drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. But this time, new sanctions may affect Turkish ships, Borrell said. The situation will be discussed at the next EU summit on 24 September.

Recall that for several years Ankara has been periodically conducting exploration of deposits on the sea shelf, which Greece and Cyprus consider part of their exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

At the end of last year, Turkey signed an agreement with the Libyan authorities to delimit maritime zones in the Mediterranean to the detriment of Athens. The agreement between Turkey and Libya was criticized by Greece, as well as the European Union and Egypt. The situation escalated seriously in the middle of this August, when Turkey sent an exploration vessel, the Oruk Reis, accompanied by a navy, to a disputed area near Cyprus. Greece put its armed forces on alert and sent warships to the disputed area, which eventually led to a clash between a Greek frigate and a Turkish one.

On Thursday, August 27, the Greek parliament ratified an agreement with Egypt on the delimitation of maritime zones in the Mediterranean. The treaty gives Athens the right to a part of the sea shelf, which Ankara considers to be its own. But Turkey intends to continue exploration for gas fields in disputed areas.

Neither Greece nor Turkey considers it permissible to compromise in territorial disputes. This complicates the negotiation process, in which Germany is the main mediator.

“We do not claim the territory, sovereignty or interests of other countries, but we will not make concessions with regard to our territories,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Recall that in 2020, Turkey has planned to drill 5 wells off the coast of Cyprus.

Earlier it was reported that Israel, Greece and Cyprus signed an interstate agreement on the construction of the EastMed subsea gas pipeline.

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