The Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday no plan excluding Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean has a chance to succeed and reiterated the country's determination in defending its rights and interests in the region.
"The issue in the Eastern Mediterranean is the equal sharing of resources. No one should expect Turkey that has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, to restrain its coast and to abandon its right to the resources," Mevlut Cavusoglu told the 12th Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara.
Calling Cyprus Turkey's national cause, he said that there is a problematic mentality that does not see the Turkish society on the island as equal.
"Initiatives that exclude or even oppose us have no chance of success," he stressed.
Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey's readiness to resolve problems with Greece via pre-conditional dialogue and diplomacy.
"While the Greek prime minister writes articles in French, German and British newspapers to try to gain public opinion in other countries, we wrote an article in a Greek newspaper and addressed the Greek people directly," he added.
"We said that we will live with tension and escalation if you wish so, or engage in dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation; the choice is on Greece," he said, adding: "Turkey has might to take any way."
Turkey is a guarantor nation for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aimed at the annexation of Cyprus by Greece and amid ethnic violence against the Turkish Cypriots, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the UK -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
- Syria, Libya issues
Turkey is following developments in Syria from the perspective of national security and regional stability, Cavusoglu said, adding it will not allow anyone to legitimize terrorism in the region.
"Our primary goal is to rid our neighbor, who has been in instability for 10 years, of terrorism, to reach a political solution that will meet the expectations of the people, and to ensure the return of refugees," he mentioned.
Cavusoglu added that Turkey carried out its operations in Syria with this understanding and prevented those trying to create a terror corridor at the border.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.
Also addressing the Libya issue, Cavusoglu reiterated that Turkey has always backed political solution via dialogue in the war-weary country.
However, Turkey had no choice to remain silent over developments in Libya and took action to prevent chaos and protect international legitimacy, he said.
"Turkey's support to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord on military training and consultancy has prevented the country from drifting more into the civil war," he mentioned.
Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The Government of National Accord was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.
The UN recognizes Fayez al-Sarraj's government as the country's legitimate authority, as Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.
Turkey also supports the al-Sarraj government.
- 'Turkey always sides with the legitimate'
Reiterating strong ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan in line with the principle of "one nation with two states," Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey stands by Azerbaijan not only due to brotherly ties, but also its being right with regards to international law.
"Because Turkey has always stood by the legitimate and the right," he highlighted.
Cavusoglu also recalled the deployment of YPG/PKK terrorists and other mercenaries in the Upper Karabakh region, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, by Armenia.
On the deal to end the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Cavusoglu said that Azerbaijan's success in the field has shown that the 30-year occupation is no longer sustainable.
"We hope that Armenia has taken the necessary lessons from this process," he said, adding there had been three cease-fires since the fresh clashes began in late September, with all violated by Armenia.
Earlier Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Azerbaijan and Armenia signed an agreement to create the necessary conditions for a long-term and comprehensive solution to the longstanding conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The announcement brought scenes of enthusiastic celebrations in many Azerbaijani cities, with thousands carrying both Azerbaijani and Turkish flags, singing national anthems, and dancing in the streets.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics over Upper Karabakh have remained tense since 1991, but fresh clashes broke out on Sept. 27. Since then, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
Turkey will continue to defend the culture of tolerance and coexistence, the top Turkish diplomat stressed, adding that the Foreign Ministry will run annual reports on issues, including hostility to Islam, anti-immigration, and xenophobia.
By Burak Bir