EU maintains sanctions against turkey in conflict over natural gas exploration in eastern mediterranean sea.
At a summit in brussel, heads of state and government agreed to use all possible instruments and options in the event of new unilateral withdrawals by turkey, according to the conclusions. At the same time, the EU promises turkey, among other things, to continue work on the expansion of the customs union if the situation calms down permanently.
With this formula, the EU states are reacting to the fact that there have been several signs of relaxation in the conflict between turkey and greece recently, but not in the dispute between turkey and cyprus. Ankara recently suspended natural gas explorations near the greek islands and announced the resumption of talks to settle the conflict with athens. Turkish ships are still exploring for natural gas off the island nation of cyprus.
Greece and cyprus have long called for stronger support from EU partners over turkey’s natural gas explorations. They are of the opinion that they take place in their maritime areas and are therefore illegal. Turkey rejects the accusations. It argues that the waters in which it is exploring for natural gas are part of its continental shelf – even if they lie near the greek islands of rhodes and kastelorizo, for example.
In february, the EU had already imposed entry bans and asset freezes on two executives of the turkish energy company TPAO because of natural gas explorations off cyprus. In 2019, it was also decided to restrict the allocation of EU funds and to suspend negotiations on an air transport agreement.
Cyprus has so far blocked planned EU sanctions against senior supporters of belarusian leader alexander lukashenko out of anger at the EU’s reluctance to impose further sanctions. Only the clear adherence to sanctions threats now moved the country to give in at the summit.