NICOSIA – Turkish drillships hunting for oil and gas in waters off the island, Cyprus sent to the European Council for Foreign Affairs a list of Turkish nationals, asking they be sanctioned, although the European Union has been reluctant to get tough.
The names include CEO Melih Han Bilgin, Vice Presidents Edip Muyesseroglu and Mehmet Ferruh Akal?n, and board member Alparslan Bayraktar, according to the Cyprus Mail although the Cypriot government hasn’t enforced EU arrest warrants for crews of the ships.
But the sanctions list doesn’t include President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor any politicians after the EU imposed only soft sanctions over the drilling, fearful that he would flood the bloc with millions more refugees and migrants through Greek islands.
Bayraktar currently holds the office of Deputy Minister of Energy and it wasn’t explained whether he would face sanctions if granted by the EU, which is being asked to stop up actions over the drilling in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ.)
Possible EU sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes, while also banning citizens of member states and companies in the EU from providing funds to sanctioned individuals or entities, with a decision expected in January.
Earlier sanctions included inclu
ded a freeze on Turkey’s pre-accession funding in hopes of joining the EU, a 14-year stalled odyssey so far, and the suspension of negotiations on an aviation agreement.
Erdogan ignored those and went ahead and signed a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them and said drilling would go on, although that has undermined any hopes of resuming reunification talks.
The last round collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army on the northern third occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and demanded the right of further military intervention.
Turkey doesn’t recognize parts of Cyprus’ EEZ where the legitimate government has licensed foreign companies to also drill, with fears there could be a shooting conflict if tension keeps rising over it.