Turkey needs to make foreign policy changes that reflect its national interests, including on Cyprus, main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said Tuesday.
Speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his Republican People's Party (CHP), Kilicdaroglu stressed the importance of Turkey's military operation in Cyprus in 1974 and said the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) should be recognized and Turkey needs to pursue a new policy.
“The policy in Cyprus needs to change. A new move needs to be made. If this is not implemented, we will face much bigger problems in the future," he said.
In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the 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 the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
Kilicdaroglu also spoke about drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and said Turkey is being isolated in the international arena.
He noted that there are large oil and natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean and pointed to the cooperation between the U.S. Egypt, Israel, Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration.
"Only one state is not there: Turkey. Everyone has a say…Only Turkey has been excluded," Kilicdaroglu said.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations on May 3 this year in an area located 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of Cyprus island. The area falls entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the UN and under permit licenses the Turkish government in previous years granted to Turkish Petroleum Corporation, the country's national oil company.
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.
Last week, the Greek Cypriot administration reportedly issued arrest warrants for the crew of the Fatih and officials of companies cooperating with Turkish Petroleum.
Reporting by Seval Ocak Adiyaman
Writing by Sibel Ugurlu