Reuters reports that diplomats said Nicosia was demanding a tougher EU line on Turkey over offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, which the Greek Cypriot government says violates its exclusive commercial area.
EU ministers meeting on Tuesday — as well as the EU’s national leaders due to meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday — would, however, issue a warning to Ankara.
As the piece says Cyprus has threatened to block the whole text on the future prospects of countries willing to join the EU – a group that also includes Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans.
Cyprus and Greece said they could seek EU sanctions against Turkey, though the bloc is not seen acting on that for now.
The current language of the draft ministerial statement says Turkey “continues to move further away from the European Union” and calls on Ankara to stop “illegal” drilling. Turkey says the area is on its own continental shelf.
Diplomats said Cyprus was seeking a clearer threat that, should Ankara not change tack, the EU could formally end talks on upgrading its customs union with Turkey and on the right for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU, as well as cutting funds for the key NATO ally.
The EU formally halted Turkey’s long-stalled membership bid over President Tayyip Erdogan’s sweeping crackdown on critics following a failed 2016 coup. While the relationship is tense, the EU still depends on Turkey on security issues, as well as migration.