Turkey, the country with the longest shore in the Mediterranean, has on every possible occasion conveyed its commitment to the protection of its sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Following the European Union Foreign Affairs Council decision on late Monday to implement a set of sanctions, or restrictive measures, against Turkey over its hydrocarbon drilling and exploratory operations in the Eastern Mediterranean in a location off the island of Cyprus, Turkey resolutely stressed that EU actions against Turkey would not yield major impacts and are not an element of deterrence for Turkey to abandon its efforts in the region.
Commenting on the EU sanctions Tuesday during a press conference in North Macedonia, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said there is “no need to take the decision seriously, ” because “they know it’s impossible to implement it.” Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey will soon send its fourth ship to the Eastern Mediterranean and will continue to increase its activities there.
Later on Tuesday, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said Oruç Reis seismic exploration vessel will be sent to Eastern Mediterranean as the fourth ship to take part in hydrocarbon activities in the region after completing its current activities in the Marmara Sea.
The ship operated by the General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration (MTA) was built by Turkish engineers in a local shipyard in Istanbul and has been operating since late June 2017. The 86-meter-long and 22-meter-wide vessel is donned with 35 active cameras located at different angles onboard.
Moreover, the MTA Oruç Reis has a propulsion and maneuvering system with the capacity to conduct 2B and 3B seismic surveys in open seas.
Dönmez said the country will continue hydrocarbon exploration and drilling operations in the region with no interruption in its own continental shelf and in the blocks for which Turkey received a license from the Turkish Cypriot government in the north of Cyprus.
The European Council published a final declaration Monday following a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council which was attended by foreign ministers of its member states.
The council said in the statement that in light of “Turkey’s continued and new illegal drilling activities, the Council will suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agree not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being.”
It also endorsed a proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invited the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending.
They also backed a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to Turkey for next year. The ministers warned that additional “targeted measures” were being worked on to penalize Turkey, which started negotiations to join the EU in 2005.