EU renews sanctions on Turkey over gas exploration in Mediterranean Sea  

Brussels/Ankara: The European Union (EU) has imposed sanctions on Turkey, which has threatened its member nations over gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea. Accusing Turkey of clearly carrying out illegal drilling, the EU has announced sanctions against Turkey till next year. A Turkish oil company has been targeted in the matter, and EU hinted at expanding the scope of sanctions as well. Given the developments, France demanded a bolder policy against Turkey. The EU sanctions and France’s demand may thereby worsen tensions between Europe and Turkey.  

Turkey has stepped up efforts for energy reserves in the Mediterranean Sea in the past two years. Claiming ownership to the maritime territories near Greece and Cyprus, Turkey is trying to encroach the region. A severe reaction has emerged from the European nations over the Turkish operations. The EU had sanctioned the country last year as well over its activities near Cyprus. In a summit last week, the bloc decided to renew the sanctions and warned that they could be made more comprehensive.   

In August, Turkey had issued a NAVTEX alert and sent research ship Oruc Reis along with two auxiliary ships in the Mediterranean Sea. The US, EU as even NATO had expressed displeasure over the move. The US and Europe showed support for Greece and began to pressurise Turkey over the issue. Turkey had therefore withdrawn its ship from the Mediterranean Sea and initiated negotiations with Greece in September. Last month, however, the Turkish Navy issued another NAVTEX alert while Orus Reis returned to the Mediterranean with vessels Ataman and Cengiz Han near the Greek Island of Kastellorizo. Initially, the ships were to remain operational in the region till October 22, but Turkey has extended this period thrice, to allow it in the waters till November 14.   

Turkey’s move has drawn intense reactions from Greece as even the EU and NATO. Greece has pressed for harsh sanctions against Turkey. The EU has previously renewed sanctions against Turkey over Cyprus and with its latest decision has indicated it can cater to Greece’s demands as well. Since a leading nation like France has taken a firm stand in this regard, Turkey is quite likely to receive a blow from Europe with fresh sanctions soon. The sanctions imposed earlier by the US has delivered a massive hit to the Turkish economy.  If Turkey were to brace for additional strict sanctions, the country might land itself in deep trouble. 

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