Turkey slams EU stance on E.Mediterranean drilling

Foreign Ministry calls on EU to encourage dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, as well as Turkey and Greece

Merve Aydogan   | 24.04.2020
Turkey slams EU stance on E.Mediterranean drilling


Turkey on Friday slammed EU criticism of the country's legitimate energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying an EU statement reflects an “obsolete” understanding.

At a Thursday meeting, the EU Council claimed Turkey's energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean is illegal and expressed "full solidarity” with Southern Cyprus.

"The EU, contrary to international law and its own acquis, is being exploited by the Greek Cypriot-Greek duo and has become a mouthpiece of their maximalist policies," said a statement by Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy.

Aksoy further stressed that the "EU should now understand that no result can be achieved with this understanding."

"We expect the EU to encourage Greek Cypriots to launch dialogue with the Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

“Likewise, we expect the EU to encourage Greece to start dialogue with Turkey on the Eastern Mediterranean. It should not allow Turkey’s EU membership process to be taken hostage for the sake of the Greek Cypriot-Greek duo’s narrow-sighted interests."

He reaffirmed that Turkey will continue to protect not only its rights but also Turkish Cypriots' rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s rights in Eastern Mediterranean

Last May, Turkish-flagged drill ships began offshore drilling operations in areas off the coast of Cyprus. The areas fall entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the UN and in permit licenses the Turkish government in previous years granted to Turkish Petroleum, the country's national oil company.

Turkey wants to see energy as an incentive for political resolution on the island and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin, not a catalyst for further tensions.

This January, the Greek Cypriot administration issued arrest warrants for crew members of the ships and officials of companies cooperating with Turkish Petroleum.

Last November, Ankara and Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a pact on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The pact asserted Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

It further underlined that Ankara had a say in projects that involve it, as it has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, and that it is prepared to cooperate with all countries in the region except the Greek Cypriot administration.

Turkey is a guarantor nation for the TRNC and 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.

In 1974, following a coup aimed at the annexation of Cyprus 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, held in Switzerland with the participation of the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece and the UK – came to an end without any progress in 2017.

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