Ankara is determined to protect Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea under the international law, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday.
“Along with the rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean under international law, as a guarantor country, Turkey is determined to always protect the rights of the people of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and not to allow the fait accompli,” Akar told Anadolu Agency.
The minister's remarks came a day after the Greek Foreign Ministry called Turkey to stop drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Akar called on Greece for common sense and cooperation and added that the energy sources in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean should serve as a bridge for peace, dialogue and mutual development.
Turkish Foreign Ministry also issued a statement on Saturday to reject the remarks made by EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini regarding Turkey's hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
"Turkey’s hydrocarbon related activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region are based on its legitimate rights stemming from international law.
"As we previously stressed on many occasions, having the longest coastal line in the region, we will protect our own rights and interests within our continental shelf, as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots around the Cyprus Island," the ministry said.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
Reporting by Sarp Ozer
Writing by Sena Guler