European Union backs Cyprus in stand-off with Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defends Turkey's activities and has lashed out at outside actors for what he called interference

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defends Turkey's activities and has lashed out at outside actors for what he called interference

The incident had been reported in the Turkish Cypriot media earlier this week and was also raised by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci during a meeting with United Nations special envoy Elizabeth Spehar on Wednesday.

"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.

FILE - In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 file photo, a Turkish Navy warship patrols near Turkey's drilling ship ' Fatih ' that is making its way towards the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus.

"The drilling activities of our ship Yavuz are based on legal and legitimate grounds", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that "we reject the statement made by Greek Foreign Ministry and European Union officials that deem our country's activities illegal".

The Israeli response to drilling by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean in waters Cyprus says are inside its Exclusive Economic Zone comes just a day after the U.S. State Department urged Turkey to halt the project, and two days after Cyprus objected to a Turkish ship dropping anchor in the area.

The EU depends on Turkey to keep a lid on migration from the Middle East to Europe, and for security matters, but the relationship has turned sour over President Tayyip Erdogan's sweeping crackdown on critics following a failed coup in 2016.

On Thursday, national envoys in Brussels were discussing a joint decision to punish Ankara over what the European Union sees as Turkish interference with Cyprus' exclusive economic zone.

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. Erdogan essentially dared Cyprus to try to take them into custody so far.

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