Turkey's 2nd ship to drill off eastern Cyprus despite European Union warnings

Turkey rejects claims it is drilling illegally for gas off Cyprus

A joint decision was drafted in Brussels by national envoys on Thursday.

"The Council endorses the (European) Commission's proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending", it said.

But that's been seen as trying to have it both ways, to push Erdogan toward stopping the drilling in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where the legitimate government has licensed foreign companies to drill, with American energy giant ExxonMobil already reporting a major gas find.

The EU's European Council said it would respond "in full solidarity with Cyprus" in light of Turkey's ongoing explorations, and would take "appropriate measures".

An EU diplomat involved in the discussions told Reuters: "It would only be targeting people linked to these specific illegal activities". The bloc's foreign policy service would additionally advise member states to refrain from high-level contacts with Turkey, based on the official, who requested not to be named because the matter is sensitive.

Last month the European Union threatened economic sanctions against Ankara.

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While Cyprus wants a tougher line on Turkey, it as failed to have arrested the crew of a Turkish ship drilling in the EEZ, parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize, after issuing an worldwide warrant.

But, as the bloc needs Turkey in matters such as security and migration, an European Union diplomat involved in the latest discussions told Reuters any future sanctions would be limited.

The government has instructed police to investigate a reported attack against a Turkish Cypriot bus at Larnaca airport where it was picking up tourists to take to the breakaway north, the government spokesman said on Thursday.

"The EU should act on principles instead of taking the Greek Cypriot side".

Nicosia pushed for tougher language.

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