BRUSSELS — Armenia along with five countries has joined the sanctions mechanism against Turkey for illegal exploration work on the Cyprus shelf in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus, the EU council said in a released statement.
The decision, reflecting a broader deterioration in EU ties with Turkey, aims to punish Ankara for violating Cyprus’ maritime economic zone by drilling off the divided island. It follows a separate decision to stop new arms sales by EU governments to Turkey over Ankara’s Oct. 9 incursion into Syria.
“The countries that are candidates for accession to the EU, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, as well as Iceland, a member of the European Economic Area, as well as Armenia have joined this decision”, the statement said. The document notes that now the mentioned countries will have to coordinate their policies with Council Decision concerning restrictive measures in view of Turkey’s unauthorized drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“This decision will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in unauthorized drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. 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 bid to join the world’s biggest trading bloc.
With Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on dissidents and his sweeping new presidential powers that the EU says lack checks and balances, many EU states say Turkey no longer meets the democratic criteria to be a candidate, let alone an EU member.