EIB freezes gov’t-linked lending
The European Investment Bank (EIB) will not do any new lending in Turkey linked to the government until at least the end of the year while it carries out a strategy review.
The move is part of a European Union decision earlier this month to symbolically punish Turkey over what it calls “illegal” drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
“As the EU Bank, the EIB will follow the Council’s recommendations and, notably, will take a restrictive approach towards the submission of new lending
operations to its Board for approval for the rest of the year,” an EIB spokeswoman told Reuters.
The EIB, which is Turkey’s biggest single lender, has spent between 0.4 billion euros ($446 million) and 2.2 billion euros ($2.45 billion) a year in the country over the last three years, while nothing has been invested so far in 2019.
The freeze is not currently expected to affect private sector projects and the bank could still sign around 350 million euros worth of deals before the end of the year if it gets the green light from EU finance ministers on the EIB board.
“A review of the Bank’s strategic orientations of its lending activities in Turkey is scheduled for later this year,” the spokeswoman added.
Turkey has said that any EU funding cuts will not affect its drilling off Cyprus.
The dispute stems from overlapping claims to regional waters by Turkey and Greek Cyprus linked to the split of the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has told energy firms not to work with the Greek Cypriot government and sent ships to drill off the island, divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup.