EU to exam sanctions against Turkey – Ankara is ruling out backing down

Cyprus has threatened to block the whole text on the future prospects of countries willing to join the EU – a group that also includes Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans.

Diplomats said Nicosia was demanding a tougher EU line on Turkey over offshore drilling in eastern Mediterranean, which the Greek Cypriot government says violates its exclusive commercial area.

Cyprus and Greece said they could seek EU sanctions against Turkey, though the bloc is not seen acting on that for now.

EU ministers meeting on Tuesday – as well as the EU’s national leaders due to meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday – would, however, issue a warning to Ankara.

The current language of the draft ministerial statement says Turkey “continues to move further away from the European Union” and calls on Ankara to stop “illegal” drilling. Turkey says the area is on its own continental shelf.

Diplomats said Cyprus was seeking a clearer threat that, should Ankara not change tack, the EU could formally end talks on upgrading its customs union with Turkey and on the right for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU, as well as cutting funds for the key NATO ally.

The EU formally halted Turkey’s long-stalled membership bid over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s sweeping crackdown on critics following a failed 2016 coup. While the relationship is tense, the EU still depends on Turkey on security issues, as well as migration.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is dismissing threats of European Union sanctions as tensions escalate over disputed energy rights on the divided island of Cyprus. The dispute threatens to further isolate Ankara, which is already facing a major crisis with Washington.

Ankara is ruling out backing down on the increasingly bitter dispute over the search for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean waters off Cyprus. “We continue and will continue to search (or gas) in those areas, Cypriot waters,” Erdogan also said Sunday on TV.