BRUSSELS – The European Union foreign ministers approved on Monday the imposition of sanctions against Turkey after the country’s decision to continue exploration for hydrocarbons in Cyprus, local press reported.
Turkish Yavuz and Fatih drilling vessels are currently anchored off the coast of Cyprus to drill for oil and gas. Both Cyprus and Greece see this as a provocation and the European Union has asked Turkey to close the operation of the ships.
Ankara, for its part, argues that it has the right to drill natural resources in the region and announced on Wednesday that it will continue its activities in the area.
According to the German news agency Focus, the sanctions are aimed at reducing the European Union’s lending to Turkey and may also suspend an aviation agreement between Brussels and Ankara, which is currently under negotiation.
In addition, the EU threatens to impose other sanctions, including the introduction of restrictive measures on individuals and organizations involved.
Cyprus has been divided between the Greek and Turkish communities since 1974, although the Turkish-backed northern republic has not been internationally recognized. The Republic of Cyprus, which rightfully defends sovereignty over the whole island, joined the European Union in 2004.
This comes as the President of Turkey stressed that, with the purchase of Russian anti-aircraft systems, his country “is not preparing for a war”, but rather aims to “guarantee peace and national security.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that the agreement with Russia on the S-400 air defense systems is “the most important” in the history of his country.
Thus, the president stressed that with the purchase of these systems Ankara “is not preparing for a war”, but aims to “ensure peace and national security.”
“This is a partnership process and a great step forward for joint production,” the Turkish leader said. “Our Armed Forces will have full control. The [S-400 agreement] is currently the best deal in our history.”
It was not clarified that the so-called defensive purposes of the S-400 includes defending Turkish vessels illegally operating in Cyprus.