EU sanctions on Turkey over gas dispute is political message - Arab News

The European Union sanctions on Turkey over what it called illegal drilling for hydrocarbons off Cyprus are tools for a political message rather than broad economic punishments, Arab News said on Thursday, citing experts.

Tensions have escalated between Turkey and the Greek Cypriot government and Greece over drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean after a series of rich hydrocarbon discoveries. Nicosia and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims of drilling rights in the region. Turkey, the only nation to recognise Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriot.

European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Turkey's increasing drilling efforts in the region and, the bloc on Monday announced sanctions on Turkey, including a freeze to 146 million euros of pre-accession assistance for Turkey for next year, the suspension of negotiations for an aviation agreement, and a review of lending to Turkey from the European Investment Bank, worth 386 million euros last year

But the EU sanctions are carefully designed not to perform as wide economic sanctions and pave the way for further escalation, said analyst Madalina Sisu Vicari.

"They were purposefully crafted in order to send a political message, not to harm the Turkish economy,” Arab News quoted Vicari as saying.

The EU sanctions will have little impact on multilateral EU-Turkey economic relations but they still mark the bloc's failure to form an effective policy with Ankara since punishment method is impotent, according to Sinan Ülgen, a former Turkish diplomat and the chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies.

"Ideally, the EU should create a positive agenda that can be more influential in impacting Turkey’s behavior,” Arab News quoted Ülgen as saying.