Cyprus called Turkey a "pirate state" on Sunday over its attempts to drill for oil and gas off Cypriot waters, one day after the EU issued a warning to Ankara. Turkey, for its part, said the bloc was prejudiced against Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus, which is has been divided since 1974 into a northern Turkish part and the officially recognized southern Greek part, said Turkey had "provactively ignored" repeated warnings from the European Union to cease its illegal drilling.
Turkey has attempted to drill in Cypriot coastal waters four times since last July, most recently in an area already licensed to Italian oil company Eni and French firm Total.
In response, the EU has set up a mechanism to impose sanctions on any individuals or companies involved in illegal drilling off Cyprus. Possible sanctions could be put in place as soon as Monday, officials said.
Also on Sunday, the Turkish government accused the EU of prejudice and "double standards."
"The EU has remained silent since 2003 to the usurping of our country's and the Turkish Cypriots' rights in the eastern Mediterranean," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
"The European Union must firstly end these policies under the guise of union solidarity, which are far from a reality, prejudiced and show double standards."
Turkey says it is protecting the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the resources in the area, something the Cypriot government called "hypocritcal" considering what they view as Ankara's exploitation of the Turkish side of Cyprus.
es/ng (AP, AFP)