Erdogan defies European Union sanctions threat over Cyprus drilling

File photo of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Istanbul, Turkey Nov 12, 2019, 04.22 PM (IST)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that he would not give in to EU demands to stop oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean around Cyprus.

Brussels has repeatedly warned Turkey to halt drilling off the coast of EU member Cyprus, and announced on Monday that a framework had been agreed to impose travel bans and asset freezes on the individuals and companies involved.

"Do not dare to give an ultimatum to Turkey about the developments on Cyprus," Erdogan said in a televised press conference. "We do not care about it, and we will proceed on our path."

The discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a dispute between Cyprus and Turkey, which occupies the north of the Mediterranean island.

Erdogan again used the threat of "opening the gates" to millions of Syrian refugees that Turkey is hosting, and called for greater support, given its efforts in handling jihadist prisoners. 

"Review your attitude toward a country which keeps so many Daesh members in prisons and similarly controls them on the Syrian side," Erdogan said, using another name for the Islamic State group.