Turkey refused a set of punitive measures by the European Union and vowed to go ahead with its energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean in a rising conflict with EU member Cyprus. The escalation came after Turkey began to take delivery of a Russian missile-defense system despite the threat of U.S. sanctions.
These “decisions won’t impact our dedication in any approach to keep it up with hydrocarbon movements in the eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated, calling it “significant” that the EU’s move came on the 3rd anniversary of a failed coup attempt. Cyprus & Turkey are at loggerheads over offshore gas reserves claimed by the Greek Cypriot administration of the island and disputed by Ankara, which doesn’t recognize its sovereignty. The island has remained divided because of the Turkish military’s 1974 seizure of Northern Cyprus, where it maintains tens of thousands of troops.
Turkey is aiming to maintain its function as a guarantor of security to safeguard Turkish Cypriots, a minority of about a 5th of the island’s population whose self-proclaimed state is only recognized by Ankara. The prospect of further tensions around one of many world’s toughest diplomatic disputes is putting stress on Turkey’s weakened economic system just as its longtime alliance with the U.S. can be coming beneath dangerous pressure.
Turkey is irked by Washington’s refusal to extradite a U.S.-based cleric blamed for orchestrating the coup attempt in 2016. Another flashpoint is America’s arming of Kurdish militants in Syria, a group Turkey considers a threat to its security.