Turkey will not be deterred by any cause to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots in Eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
“No one can stop us from pursuing rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots in Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan told an Istanbul dinner hosted by a local association.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Turkey intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure.
The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
On the reported decision of Greek Cypriot administration to issue arrest warrants for crew members of the Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih, Erdogan said Turkey’s drill ships will “resolutely” continue its studies in the region.
The Fatih drillship launched offshore operations on May 3 in an area of 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island, and is set to be joined by the drillship Yavuz.
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 and Ankara has the right to hydrocarbon drilling as well.
- Russian S-400 missile defense system
On Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400, Erdogan reiterated that it is a “done deal” and Turkey will receive its orders soon.
Erdogan rejected any criticism against Turkey on the issue, saying that Greece had already purchased Russian S-300.
He also said that Turkey continues to take any measure for its national defense.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile defense system which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger congressional sanctions.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.
U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s from Moscow, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
By Gozde Bayar