LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The maritime jurisdiction issue in the Eastern Mediterranean has acquired a new dimension, as Turkey recently signed an agreement with Libya, said the prime minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Wednesday.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Ersin Tatar commented on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey-Libya maritime delimitation agreement, and the relations of the TRNC with Ankara.
Tatar said the Greek Cypriots of the island took unilateral steps and operated alongside international energy companies while attempting to isolate Turkish Cypriots.
The TRNC offered the establishment of a joint committee that would search natural sources in the region and take official decisions, however, the Greek Cypriot side has repeatedly refused this offer, according to Tatar.
"Following [Turkey's] agreements and licensing activities with the TRNC, the agreement [reached] with Libya and its ratification by the parliaments have brought a significant dimension to the issue," he said.
Stating that the presence of little islands in the Eastern Mediterranean would not pave the way for the establishment of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) as large as sought by Greece and the Greek Cypriots, Tatar said the Turkey-Libya deal adhered to the international law and was based on facts that gave birth to a fresh map in the region.
"In light of the recent developments and international trends, Turkey has more to say than anyone else in the region with its population of 82 million on the mainland and coastline over 1,800 kilometers [1,118 miles]," he said.
Tatar said both Turkey and the TRNC sought to get their fair share in the region and did not have their eyes on anyone else's properties.
"When we take a look at the map and sea, Turkey indeed has [fair] claims and great rights," he said, adding the policy pursued by Greek and the Greek Cypriots were not based on righteousness whereas Turkey and the TRNC fully complied with international laws, regional realities and conscience.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Mediterranean region is estimated to boast millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic meters of natural gas, worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Turkey, for its part, has urged regional countries to take an equality-based approach, but its calls have largely fallen on deaf ears. Turkey continues its drilling and discovery operations in the region under the protection of the country's navy.
In a statement on Saturday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey does not want any escalation in the region but stands ready to respond to possible hostilities.
*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas
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