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Potential EU sanctions against Turkey in response to situation in Varosha


On 26 November 2020, the European Parliament issued a resolution on the escalating tensions in Varosha, stressing the urgent need for the resumption of talks, and calling for "tough sanctions" on Turkey.

The resolution condemns Turkey's partial opening of Varosha, and states that "Turkey’s continuous and growing distancing from European values and standards has brought EU-Turkey relations to a historic low point[.]" The Parliament therefore "calls on the European Council to maintain its unified position vis-à-vis unilateral and illegal actions by Turkey, to take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions".

Varosha, the southern part of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, was abandoned during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. It has remained uninhabited and under the control of the Turkish military ever since. In October of this year, Ankara declared a partial opening of Varosha, in violation of past agreements and UN Security Council resolutions, in particular 550 from 1984 and 789 from 1992. The move was condemned by amongst others Greece and the US, and has prompted protests from Greek Cypriots.

For its part, Turkey has rejected the calls for sanctions, and accuses the European Parliament of being "prejudiced and disconnected from the realities," according to Reuters.

Note that the adopted resolution is non-binding. Thus, it is currently not clear whether sanctions in fact will be imposed by the EU. If sanctions are imposed, it is likely that such sanctions will target the oil and gas sector. Potential new sanctions would add to the already existing EU framework of restrictive measures against Turkey for its unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in contravention of Cyprus' sovereignty (see previous Sanctions Alert from October 2019).


WR Sanctions Alerts provide you with updates on material developments in the country-specific sanctions programs implemented by the US, the UN, the UK, the EU and Norway. We will not provide updates on mere prolongations, without material changes, of existing sanctions programs, nor on any listings or de-listings of individuals/entities placed on implemented sanctions lists . Please note that the WR Sanctions Alerts are provided as general information and do not constitute legal advice.

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Tine Elisabeth Vigmostad
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