Turkey will increase its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and it will send fourth ship to the region, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday.
"If you [EU] take such decisions against Turkey, we will increase activities [in the Eastern Mediterranean]. We have three ships in the Eastern Mediterranean. We will send the fourth one as soon as possible. They should understand that they can not cope with such methods with Turkey. We decide [about] what we will do in our own continental shelf," Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference in North Macedonia.
Cavusoglu underlined that Ankara would not allow anyone to usurp the rights of the the Turkish Cypriot people.
"As long as they do not guarantee the rights of the people of Cyprus, we will continue to increase our activities there," Cavusoglu said.
He underlined that the Greek Cypriot administration should discuss the matters with Turkish Cypriots for a "fair" sharing, adding that Turkey would "not permit anyone to usurp the Turkish Cypriot people's rights."
Cavusoglu's remarks came a day after the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on the Turkish drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The council decided to suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agreed not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being.
Cavusoglu downplayed the conclusion, pointing out that the EU knows that its decisions against Turkey are not possible to implement.
"There is no need to take it very seriously, because there had been times that they cut the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in the past. These are simple things. They are not things that will affect us," he said.
Cavusoglu underlined that EU-Turkey talks on civil aviation had already come to a halt because of the Greek Cypriot administration.
Dismissing criticism from Brussels on the recent change of the chief official at Turkey's Central Bank, Cavusoglu said: "The EU has always criticized the intervention of politicians in the central bank or the banks."
'EU will have to come to us'
Emphasizing the EU's need for Turkey, Cavusoglu said the bloc took Monday's decisions only to "appease" the Greek Cypriot administration.
"They will have to come to us, there is no other way. They know it won't be possible to implement the decisions they have taken," he said.
"With their absurd understanding of solidarity, they had to take resolutions under pressure of Greece and the Greek Cypriots," he added.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since this spring, 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’ crews and enlisting 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.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus 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.
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