By Irene Kostaki-Journalist, New Europe
The European Union has warned Turkey about drilling off the coast of EU-member Cyprus as several leaders voiced support for sanctions against Turkish companies.
As tension escalates in the Mediterranean, the EU-27 at the Sibiu Summit in Romania on the bloc’s post-Brexit future, discussed the matter.
“Today, (Cypriot) President (Nicos) Anastasiades informed the (EU’s) leaders about the Turkish drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus,” said European Council President, Donald Tusk while in Romania for a summit of the bloc’s 27 leaders. “The European Union stands united behind the Republic of Cyprus and expects Turkey to respect their sovereign rights. The European Council will continue to follow these developments closely”.
Anastasiades has protested Turkey’s move to drill within the island nation’s exclusive economic zone. Cyprus proposed that the EU consider introducing stiff economic sanctions against Turkish individuals and companies involved in illegal exploratory drilling off Cyprus’ coast.
A number of the EU’s leaders, including Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite, and Sweden’s Stefan Löfven voiced support for Anastasiades. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, remained non-committal to the prospect of sanction, adding that though she supports Cyprus’ interests, punitive sanctions were not currently on the table.
The matter of targeted sanctions against Turkey is set to be discussed after the European elections on 23-26 May.