Turkey on Friday stressed its commitment to protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Greek Cypriot administration said it had signed contracts with major energy industry players.
Greek Cypriots are in violation of the rights of Turkish Cypriots, who have an equal say on the natural resources of the island, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
Aksoy said the so-called contracts between the Greek Cypriot administration and global energy companies are unacceptable since they ignored the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' rightful share of offshore resources.
Turkey won't allow theft
Aksoy said the energy companies cannot turn a blind eye to the rights and demands of Turks who are sharing the island with the Greeks.
"Therefore, unless the Greek side abandons its unilateral policies, Turkey will continue to protect its rights as well as the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean and won't hesitate to take necessary steps in line with its principled stance," said Aksoy.
Aksoy recalled the words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said earlier in the day that Turkey will not let anyone infringe on the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Aksoy also said the Turkish drill ships Yavuz and Fatih will start drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean very soon.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched its offshore drilling operations on May 3 in an area located 75 kilometers (around 41 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island.
The area falls entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the UN and under permit licenses that the Turkish government granted to Turkish Petroleum in previous years.
Turkey wants to see energy as an incentive for a political resolution on the island and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin rather than a catalyst for further tensions.
In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one -- held with the participation of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Source: Anadolu Agency