Turkey criticises EU for continued reference to sanctions

FILE PHOTO: European Union (R) and Turkish flags fly at the business and financial district of Levent in Istanbul, Turkey September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday many areas of the European Union summit decisions concerning Turkey were “divorced from realities”, voicing concern about the bloc’s continued reference to possible sanctions against Ankara.

At the summit, Cyprus withdrew its opposition to sanctions on Belarus while other EU leaders assured Cyprus the bloc would punish Turkey if it continues oil and gas exploration in disputed areas of the Mediterranean.

Cyprus had insisted that the bloc impose sanctions on Turkey, but was satisfied by a compromise agreeing to review Turkey’s behaviour in December and impose sanctions then if its “provocations” have not stopped.

“It is not constructive to continue to use the language of sanctions and describe the steps taken by our country to defend our rights and those of Turkish Cypriots as illegal,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.

“While there were some positive elements in the decisions regarding our country, many areas were divorced from realities,” it said, adding that the outcome showed EU-Turkey relations had been “taken hostage” by Greece and Cyprus.

It said Greek and Turkish Cypriots needed to be brought together to establish a mechanism to coordinate their hydrocarbon activities and ensure the just sharing of revenues between the two sides of the divided island.

“As long as this is not achieved, the Turkish Cypriot side will continue with its hydrocarbon activities by means of (Turkish energy company) TPAO,” it added.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Ezgi Erkoyun and Philippa Fletcher