EU “Stands United With Cyprus” and Warns Turkey on Oil Drilling

EU leaders meeting in Romania

EU leaders warned Ankara on Thursday to respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus, as a Turkish oil drilling ship travels inside the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades briefed fellow EU leaders on the issue at a summit in Romania.

“Today President Anastasiades also informed the leaders about the Turkish drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus,” Council President Donald Tusk said at the summit’s closing news conference.

“The European Union stands united behind the Republic of Cyprus and expects Turkey to respect sovereign rights of the EU member states. The European Council will continue to follow these developments closely.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he stood firmly behind Cyprus and urged Turkey to refrain from provocations.

“At the next summits, in May and June, the EU must examine the steps and measures that are necessary if Turkey’s provocative behavior continues. Turkey has to understand that it must come to the table and talk, in the same way as other Mediterranean countries, and not proceed with unilateral actions,” Tsipras said.

Tsipras also noted that the issue of Turkey was a European issue in that the EU, in addition to its geopolitical interests, also had to protect its energy interests and secure energy sources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

According to a Greek diplomatic source, quoted by the Athens News Agency, the “Juncker spirit” prevailed during the summit meeting, where Turkey’s activities in the Cypriot EEZ were discussed at length. The EU Commission president, on arriving at the summit, had declared, “Today, I am Cypriot.”

Regarding possible sanctions against Turkey, other diplomatic sources said these could take the form of sanctions against individuals linked to the company that is engaged in the activities in the Cypriot EEZ, or others that are related to EU-Turkey relations, such as pre-accession funds, dialogue on revising customs union, or dialogue on strategic cooperation.