Any energy project that proceeds in the eastern Mediterranean without Turkey's participation is "doomed to fail," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar warned Tuesday.
"Turkey, as a country with the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean has sovereign rights in its maritime areas," Akar said during a virtual conference hosted by the Washington-based Turkish Heritage Organization.
"Turkey's hydrocarbon-related activities in east Mediterranean are completely based on her legitimate rights and international law. Energy projects in the east Mediterranean that exclude Turkey from the energy equation are doomed to fail. We strongly believe peace and stability in the region can be achieved through dialogue," he added.
Turning to Libya where Ankara has been supporting the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, Akar said Turkish humanitarian and military aid would continue resolutely.
Last November, Turkey and Libya signed landmark pacts on military cooperation and boundaries in the Mediterranean.
The maritime pact, effective from Dec. 8, asserted Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, while maintaining that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Akar said the GNA was "compelled" to begin its counter-offensive against renegade General Khalifa Haftar's forces in March after they laid siege to Tripoli, adding they "cut off the water, electricity of Tripoli even when civilians were suffering from COVID-19."
"It is ironic to see calls for a ceasefire just when Haftar began losing on the field. As Haftar's forces started withdrawing from Tripoli they left behind mines and explosives," he said, adding that Turkey's counter-explosives team have "neutralized many" explosives.
He further reiterated Turkey's deep concern over the discovery of 19 mass graves in areas formerly held by the general that included the remains of more than 200 people.
Switching to Turkey's activities in Syria, Akar continued to maintain that "Daesh, also known as ISIS, and the PKK/YPG terrorist organizations exploited this power vacuum, first Daesh then YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK, tried to establish a terror corridor in northern Syria."
"We declared over and over that we will not let a terror corridor be established to the south of our border," he said. "Therefore we were compelled to conduct three operations in northern Syria."
Akar said that "just as Daesh does not represent Muslims, the PKK/YPG do not represent the Kurds."
"Our fight is only with the terrorists and not with any ethnic group," he said.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington