EU sanction on Turkey over Cyprus drilling may disrupt talks: Erdogan

A Turkish Navy warship patrols next to Turkey’s drilling ship Fatih while on its way towards the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus in this Turkish Defense Ministry photo released on July 9,2019. (Turkish Defense Ministry/AFP)
Updated 12 November 2019

EU sanction on Turkey over Cyprus drilling may disrupt talks: Erdogan

  • EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed economic sanctions on Ankara for violating Cyprus’ maritime economic zone by drilling off the divided island
  • The island of Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup

ANKARA: President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday the European Union’s decision to sanction Turkey over drilling off the coast of Cyprus could disrupt talks with the bloc, and he warned that Turkey could send captured Daesh fighters to Europe.
EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed economic sanctions on Ankara for violating Cyprus’ maritime economic zone by drilling off the divided island.
Turkey, a formal candidate to join the EU despite worsening ties, criticized the decision and said it would not cease drilling in the eastern Mediterranean because it is operating on its own continental shelf or areas where Turkish Cypriots have rights.
Speaking in Ankara ahead of a visit to Washington, Erdogan slammed the EU’s decision and said Turkey was acting in line with its rights based on international law.
“Hey EU, know this: Turkey is not one of those countries you have come to know until now. We are a country that sits at the negotiating table with you ...” Erdogan told reporters. “These negotiations may suddenly end.”
The EU relies on Ankara, which hosts more than 3.5 million refugees, to curb the arrival of migrants into Europe following a 2016 agreement to seal off the Aegean Sea route. Erdogan has repeatedly warned that Turkey will allow refugees to travel to Europe unless it receives aid from European countries.
“You may take this lightly, but these doors (to Europe) will open and these Daesh (Islamic State) members will be sent to you. Do not try to threaten Turkey over developments in Cyprus,” Erdogan said on Monday.
The island of Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Since then, several peacemaking efforts have failed and the discovery of offshore resources has complicated the negotiations.
EU ties with NATO-ally Turkey have meanwhile worsened after years of stalemate on Ankara’s accession bid. With a worsening record on human rights in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016, many EU states say Turkey does not meet democratic criteria to join the bloc.
The decision to impose economic sanctions on Ankara follows a separate move last month to stop arms sales to Turkey over its offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in northeast Syria. Turkey’s western allies have said the offensive could hinder the fight against Daesh, but Turkey has rejected the claims.
On Monday, Turkey said it had begun deporting Islamic State members it has captured, starting a program to repatriate the detainees that has further strained ties with its European NATO allies.
“Whether they accept them or not, we will continue to send them back,” Erdogan said on Monday, referring to Daesh detainees.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 52 min 41 sec ago

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”