LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The Greek Cypriot administration should be afraid of any conflict, since it will lose, in case of an escalation, the Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, told Anadolu Agency.
Reiterating the confidence the Turkish Cypriots have reposed on Turkey and its leadership, Tatar said the Greek Cypriot administration was treating the region as a Greek island and was dreaming to merge it with Greece.
He said the Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay was recently appointed as the official to coordinate [activities] with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
Tatar said there is no place for Turks in Greek geography. “They have always seen us [Turks] as a minority," he said.
Stressing that the “dream" of the Greek Cypriot administration was the accession of Cyprus to the EU and withdrawal of Turkey from the area, he said, they also wanted elimination of the Turkish Cypriot people by reducing them to a minority.
"As long as our resistance and determination continue, it is not possible for them to realize their dreams,” he said.
He said the Turkish Cypriots in general support strengthening of the TRNC as a state, with Turkey as an active and actual guarantor.
Tatar pointed out that the TRNC's position on hydrocarbon resources in the region is that the Turkish Cypriots should enjoy similar rights as the Greek Cypriot people on the resources in the region.
He added that during the UN mediated talks with the Greek Cypriot administration, the TRNC had suggested to set up a joint committee, for the evaluation of all the natural resources in the region. But, these proposals were never accepted.
"The Greek Cypriot side sees themselves as the sole sovereign of Cyprus. It does not intend to share with Turkish Cypriots, neither the administration nor the natural resources," Tatar said.
The PM said the TRNC, in alliance with Turkey, gives the world a message that: "We have as much rights as they [Greek Cypriot administration] do. If they do research and drilling work here, we also undertake similar exercise."
Tatar also said that preparations were underway for signing of a financial protocol between Turkey and the TRNC in July, which will cover the remaining part of 2019.
He said by October the TRNC and Turkey will draft a three-year protocol from 2020 to 2022.
Ankara has sent two drilling vessels -- Fatih and most recently Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crew and have enlisted the EU leaders to join their criticism.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
Over decades, several attempts have been made to resolve the Cyprus dispute. All, however, ended in failure. The latest one was held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- in 2017 in Switzerland.
* Writing by Jeyhun AliyevAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.