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Çavuşoğlu: EU sanctions for drilling in eastern Mediterranean will backfire

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday responded to a draft statement by the European Union calling on Ankara to halt drilling efforts in the eastern Mediterranean, saying that any EU move against Turkey would backfire, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The EU is set to curb contacts and funding for Ankara in retaliation for what it calls Turkey’s “illegal” drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus and stands ready to ramp up sanctions further, a draft statement seen by Reuters on Thursday showed.

“If there would be such a move in solidarity [with Greek Cyprus], we would retaliate by increasing our activities off Cyprus,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“No one has right to interfere with Turkey’s actions in the region,” he added.

Ankara on Wednesday rejected Greek and EU criticism that Turkish drilling off Cyprus was illegitimate. On the divided island, an internationally recognized government is part of the EU but Turkey backs a breakaway state.

While Nicosia was pushing for tougher language on sanctions, other EU states were wary of shutting down all high-level channels of communication with Ankara, diplomats said, meaning the draft decision could still change.

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