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EU prepares to expand Turkey sanctions over east Mediterranean gas drilling

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has announced that the EU is preparing a list of names of figures and businesses from Turkey who are to be sanctioned over the ongoing dispute regarding resources in the Eastern Mediterranean waters.

Josep Borrell announced the creation of the new sanctions after a meeting with EU foreign ministers in the Belgian capital Brussels yesterday, where he informed reporters that "We have agreed to ask the respective bodies of the Council to finalise preparations for adding Turkish individuals and businesses responsible for illegal drilling to a blacklist and imposing sanctions against them."

No further details were given, particularly regarding when the sanctions would be imposed.

Over the past year tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region have increased significantly due to Turkey's dispute with Southern Cyprus over the distribution of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, in which the Turkish drilling vessels have been sent to drill for natural gas in the waters off the island of Cyprus in recent months.

READ: Turkey, Libya foil plot in the East Mediterranean, says Erdogan

Turkey's deployment of the drilling vessels since June was in retaliation to a deal struck by Greece, Southern Cyprus, and Israel earlier that month, in which the three states agreed to build a pipeline harnessing the reserves of natural gas off the southern shores of the island.

The EastMed pipeline, which is estimated to produce a profit of $9 billion over 18 years of the reserve's exploitation, would be supplying gas from the eastern Mediterranean region all the way to countries in Europe.

Turkey has called on those countries to participate in a fair and equal distribution of the energy resources discovered off Cyprus, insisting that they are attempting to exclude and alienate Turkey by striking their own deal without the consideration of both the major regional player and the people of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

It stresses that the drilling activities carried out by Turkey are legal and within territorial waters.

The EU, however, has repeatedly called on Turkey to give up its claim on having a share in the energy resources, claiming that its activities are "illegal," leading the EU to impose sanctions on the Republic in July last year over the issue, as well as due to Turkey's military incursion – Operation Peace Spring – into northern Syria in October.

READ: The EastMed pipeline is another front in the encirclement of Turkey

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