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The European Council adopted a framework for restrictive measures against Turkey for its drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with Regulation (EU) No 2019/1890 of 11 November 2019. The framework will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the area. The sanctions consist of a travel ban to the EU, and an asset freeze for persons and entities.

The regulation aims to prohibit almost all commercial activities with sanctioned individuals or entities, unless authorized by the regulation or by the relevant competent authority. The competent authorities may authorize the release of certain frozen funds or economic resources under such conditions as they deem appropriate according to the regulation.

Both parties need each other. The European bloc needs to co-operate with Turkey on migration, NATO, countering terrorism and energy transmission, Turkey needs the EU to continue its commercial activities. Our consideration is that the regulation violates international law and procedures of the UN Security Council, and we believe that the related parties will finally reach a common understanding that may satisfy all parties looking from different perspectives.

Following the European Council’s statement, the expected statement on the individuals and entities to which sanctions will be imposed to, was made on 27 February 2020. It is stated that restrictive measures are to be imposed on Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) Board member and Deputy General Manager Mehmet Ferruh Akalin and TPAO Research Department Deputy Director Ali Coşkun Namoğlu who are held responsible for “planning, executing and implementing hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean”.

According to the framework that the EU adopted, individuals and organizations from the EU are prohibited from providing funds or economic resources to the two listed individuals and their assets are to be frozen.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted to this sanction decision with a written statement No. 58 on 28 February 2020 and stated that the decision has no value for Turkey. EU does not have the authority to act like an international court and cannot display unconstrained disputed maritime jurisdictions as final maritime borders, stated the Ministry’s statement.

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