The European Union will sanction more Turkish individuals and companies responsible for drilling in contested waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to a draft statement prepared for EU leaders to agree to at a summit on Thursday.
If agreed, the EU will “prepare additional listings” on the basis of a sanctions list already in place since 2019 and “if need be, work on the extension” of its scope, according to the draft statement seen by Reuters.
Negotiations over the two-page statement are still ongoing, and Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, which accuse Turkey of drilling for hydrocarbons off Cyprus' continental shelf, believe the sanctions do not go far enough, according to diplomats briefed on internal discussions.
EU leaders are considering whether to make good on a threat made in October to sanction Turkey over the drilling for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus and off Greece.
Turkey’s Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said Wednesday that the EU draft statement on Turkey is “disappointing” and called on the EU leaders to avoid the planned sanctions.
Adding that Ankara wants to achieve a positive atmosphere with Brussels, Kalın underlined that the EU surrendering to the interests of some members will hurt the bloc.
Sanctions will not work and will produce reverse effects in the long-run, he added. He was speaking via video conference in a German Marshall Fund of the United States event.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers said Turkey had failed to help end the row with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration over potential gas resources, but they left any decision on retaliatory sanctions for the EU summit.
The EU created a sanctions program last year to punish unauthorized exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, freezing assets of people and companies accused of planning or participating in activities on Cyprus' continental shelf.
So far, only two senior officials of Turkey's state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) have been put on the sanctions list, but the Greek Cypriot administration proposed a list of more names earlier this year.
The Greek Cypriot administration discovered offshore gas in 2011, but has been at loggerheads with Turkey over maritime zones around the island, where it has granted a license to multinational companies for oil and gas research.
Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with the Greek Cypriot administration, says it is operating in waters on its own continental shelf or areas where Turkish Cypriots have rights.
The European Parliament called for sanctions against Turkey on Nov. 26, but the return of the Oruç Reis research vessel to port and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call for dialogue may give the EU reasons to hold off for now.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
In recent months, Turkey has sent several drillships to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiation. Turkey and Greece have been holding NATO-led deconfliction talks, but the latter has been keeping all channels of dialogue closed.