EU to impose sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling?

EU to impose sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling?

The European Union will put on hold high-level talks with Ankara and negotiations on an air transport agreement, as well as freezing funding for Turkey next year, over "illegal" drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus, according to a draft statement.

The joint EU decision, which may still be changed, is to be discussed among national envoys in Brussels on Thursday with the aim of adopting it when the bloc’s foreign ministers meet on July 15.

"In light of Turkey’s continued and new illegal drilling activities, the (EU) decides to suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agrees not to hold further meetings of the high-level dialogues for the time being," Reuters cited the draft as saying.

"The Council endorses the (European) Commission’s proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending," it said, adding that the EU would be ready to introduce more restrictive measures against Turkey should Ankara continue drilling.

Ankara yesterday rejected Greek and EU criticism that Turkish drilling off Cyprus was illegitimate. On the divided island, an internationally recognized government is part of the EU but Turkey backs a breakaway area.

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