Turkey will “resolutely” continue to explore hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Erdogan's remarks came at a press conferences in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, following his meeting with Ersin Tatar, Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Erdogan pinned the blame on the irreconcilable attitudes of the Greek Cypriot side for the lingering Cyprus dispute.
Turkey’s president also warned: "No project ignoring Turkey or Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can be realized in Eastern Mediterranean."
Tatar is in Turkey for his first official visit to the country upon the invitation of Erdogan.
Some high-level officials from TRNC are accompanying Tatar during his trip.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since spring this year, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels -- Fatih and most recently Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) to the resources of the region.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since then have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
By Rabia Iclal Turan and Ali Murat Alhas