European Parliament urges EU to impose sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus

The European Parliament has urged the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey after President Tayyip Erdogan this month paid a visit to the breakaway Turkish-held north of divided Cyprus.

With 631 votes in favour, three against and 59 abstentions, the parliament agreed a non-binding resolution in support of EU member Cyprus urging EU leaders to “take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions”.

The resolution is likely to bolster support for France’s push for EU sanctions on Turkey next month, following through on a threat made by the bloc in October over a dispute between Ankara and EU members Greece and Cyprus over natural gas rights.

The parliament resolution called Turkey’s gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean “illegal”.

Paris, at odds with Ankara on other issues too, has not yet drawn up detailed sanctions, but diplomats told Reuters that any measures would likely target areas of Turkey’s economy linked to its hydrocarbon exploration, such as shipping, energy and banking.

“Turkey knows what it needs to do,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French parliamentary hearing this week. “Confrontation or collaboration, it’s up to them.”

Cyprus has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Only Ankara, which still maintains troops in the north, recognises as illegal secessionist entity declared by Turkish Cypriots.

Erdogan incensed Cyprus on Nov. 15 by visiting Varosha, a resort that has been fenced-off and abandoned in no-man’s land since 1974. Ankara backed the partial re-opening of Varosha in a move criticised by the United States, Greece and Greek Cypriots.

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