11:17 GMT +314 October 2019
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    EU Suspends High-Level Dialogue With Turkey 'For the Time Being' - Statement

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    The European Council said in a Monday 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".

    According to the EU Council, Ankara has "continued its drilling operations west of Cyprus and launched a second drilling operation northeast of Cyprus within Cypriot territorial waters [...] The Council calls again on Turkey to refrain from such actions, act in a spirit of good neighbourliness and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus in accordance with international law".

    EU Endorses Proposal to Reduce 'Pre-Accession Assistance to Turkey for 2020'

    "The Council, welcoming the invitation by the Government of Cyprus to negotiate with Turkey, notes that the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and continental shelf should be addressed through dialogue and negotiation in good faith, in full respect of international law and in accordance with the principle of good neighbourly relations", the statement said.

    Apart from the suspension of high-level negotiations, the Council also "endorses the Commission’s proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending", according to the statement.

    Turkish drilling ships Yavuz and Fatih are reportedly anchored off Cyprus' coast drilling for oil and gas. Cyprus and Greece see it as a provocation, and the European Union has called on Turkey to end drilling in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone. Meanwhile, Turkey believes it has the right to drill for fossil fuels in the region and has said that it will continue drilling in the zone.

    EU Council to Continue Work On Targeted Measures

    EU leaders expressed concern in late June regarding Turkey’s "illegal drilling activity" in the eastern Mediterranean, requesting the European Commission and EU diplomatic service work out "targeted measures" against Ankara.

    "The Council remains seized of the matter and, in accordance with the European Council conclusions of 20 June, invites the High Representative and the Commission to continue work on options for targeted measures in light of Turkey’s continued drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Council will closely monitor developments and will revert to this issue as appropriate", the statement said.

    Cyprus has been split between Greek and Turkish communities since 1974, although the Turkish-backed northern republic has not been recognized internationally. The Republic of Cyprus, which de jure has sovereignty over the entire island, joined the European Union in 2004.

    The row between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey escalated in 2011 when the first gas deposits were discovered off the coast of the island. Ankara rejects the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims of Nicosia. The nations have been at odds over the status of the non-recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    Related:

    US State Dept Urges Turkey to Halt Drilling Operations in Waters Off Cyprus
    Turkey to Continue Drilling Operations Near Cyprus Despite EU Criticism - Foreign Ministry
    European Commission Says Proposed Steps on Turkey's Drilling Off Cyprus to EU Leaders
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    suspension, dialogue, drilling, Cyprus, EU, Turkey
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