EU unveils framework for sanctioning Turkey over east Med drilling

The European Union has revealed a framework for imposing sanctions on Turkey for its gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, but no Turkish companies or officials have yet been targeted, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

The EU views Turkey’s search for hydrocarbons in waters near the island of EU-member Cyprus as illegal since it has sent vessels to waters that lie in the EU-member’s exclusive economic zone.

Turkey says parts of Cyprus’s EEZ lie on its own continental shelf, and objects to the internationally recognised government of the partitioned island exploiting resources that it says the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is due a share of.

During the EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday, a mechanism was unveiled that would allow the sanctioning of “individuals or entities responsible for, or involved in, unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons,” the Washington Post said.

Member states may now present the names of those they believe should be listed for sanctions, said the newspaper.

“The sanctions would involve travel bans and asset freezes on people and ‘entities’ like companies or organisations. EU citizens and firms would be banned from providing them funds,” it said.

The EU placed limited sanctions on Turkey for its drilling activities in July, including a freeze on Turkey’s pre-accession funding to the tune of 146 million euros and the suspension of negotiations on an aviation agreement, but they have failed to deter Ankara.