By Eleni Varvitsiotis
The sanctions that were discussed on Thursday by national envoys of European Union member-states against Turkey over its illegal drilling activities off Cyprus do not, reportedly, go far enough for Nicosia, which wants tougher measures.
According to a draft statement by the European Council, with which most EU member-states are in agreement, the measures against Turkey should include a suspension of negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and a halting of high-level dialogues for the time being. It also calls for a reduction of pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and for the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey.
However, the measures in the draft are seen, by Cyprus in particular, as too general and vague, with critics saying that they do not include a clear reference to restrictive measures that the European Council said it would propose in June.
These restrictive and targeted measures would have included specific sanctions against people or companies involved with Turkish drilling activities off Cyprus.
The only reference in the draft to the possibility of specific sanctions is in the final paragraph, which states that Council calls on the the European Commission to continue working on possible restrictive measures against Turkey if it continues drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The draft’s softer tone is linked to the reluctance of some member-states for the EU to adopt a stronger position. If Cyprus manages to block the statement then the issue will be deferred to EU foreign ministers who meet in Brussels on Monday.