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Turkey calls on EU to keep out of its dispute with Cyprus over gas drilling

Christian Fernsby |
Turkey has told the European Union countries that EU should stay out of its dispute with Cyprus over natural gas drilling in parts of the eastern Mediterranean, according to a Turkish document published by a Cypriot newspaper on Sunday.

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The Phileleftheros (Liberal) newspaper said Turkey handed a non-paper dated June 16, 2019, containing its positions on the natural gas drilling it has started a short distance from the west shores of Cyprus and other actions planned on the east side of the island where it has sent another drilling ship.

The document was handed to 27 EU countries, but not to Cyprus, which Turkey does not recognize as a state, according to Phileleftheros, which is known to have access to reliable sources in the Cypriot foreign ministry.

Turkey said that EU should not meddle in maritime jurisdiction disputes and maritime boundaries.

"Such a decision would be a mistake and put further strain on the already impaired image of the EU as a biased actor in the region," the non-paper said.

"We are of the opinion that it would be wise if the EU refrains from taking sides in overlapping maritime jurisdiction area claims and acting as a court in deciding on maritime boundaries," it added.

However, the European Council dismissed Turkey's suggestion and called on Turkey to stop its "illegal activities in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zones", or it would face sanctions.

The European Council also said it instructed the European Commission and the EU foreign affairs service to come up with a bundle on "targeted measures" either against Turkey and its officials of companies involved in the drilling, from which the Council will choose, probably at its July meeting.

Turkey said its hydrocarbon related activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region "are based on its legitimate rights stemming from the international law".

Ankara argues that some of the gas fields claimed by the Greek Cypriots overlap with the exclusive economic zone of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots living in the northern part of the divided Cyprus Island.

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