European Union leaders are set to condemn Turkey's efforts to stop natural gas exploration off Cyprus ahead of a meeting next week between top EU officials and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a draft statement, seen by The Associated Press, they call on Turkey "to cease these actions and respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources in accordance with EU and international law."

Last month, Turkish warships blocked a rig from reaching an area southeast of Cyprus where Italian company Eni was scheduled to drill.

Ankara said it would prevent any further drilling off Cyprus without the direct involvement of the ethnically divided island's breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

The EU leaders, meeting in Brussels Thursday, urged Turkey to normalize ties with Cyprus.