The European Union has urged Turkey to halt its “illegal” drilling activities in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) whilst preparing new sanctions, following the country’s announcement that the Yavuuz drilling ship will conduct further exploration and drilling activities in the area.

“We have agreed to ask the respective bodies of the Council to finalise preparations for adding Turkish individuals and businesses responsible for illegal drilling to a blacklist and imposing sanctions against them,” EU’s Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday, according to Euronews Turkey.

In a statement issued on Saturday, EU’s Foreign Policy spokesman Peter Stano said that Turkey’s actions undermine regional stability and that “concrete steps towards creating an environment conducive to dialogue in good faith are needed”.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “vowed” on Thursday to start drilling off the coast of Cyprus “as soon as possible”, as Ankara signed a maritime zones deal with the Tripoli-based government of General Khalifa Haftar in November, claiming vast swathes of Greece’s and Cyprus’ territorial waters.

“The international law of the sea, the principle of good neighbourly relations and the sovereignty and sovereign rights over the maritime zones of all Member States have to be respected,” EU said in its statement.

On Sunday, the Turkish MFA issued a statement, saying that the Yavuz drillship has proceeded to licensed area “G” in the south of Cyprus, to conduct another drilling operation, in an area licensed to the energy companies Eni of Italy and Total of France.

“Turkish Cypriots have rights as much as the Greek Cypriots. Should oil and natural gas be found in this area, both parties will share the revenues together,” Hami Aksoy, the MFA’s spokesperson added.

The statement also commented on EU’s stance towards the matter, saying that the EU is applying “unrealistic, prejudiced and double standard policies” in its approach to Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

“Turkey is turning into a pirate state in the eastern Mediterranean,” the Cypriot Presidency said in a statement, on Sunday. “Turkey insists on going down the path of international illegality,” as it has “provocatively ignored” EU calls for compliance with international law and for termination of its drilling activities.